“Currently, there are more than 93,000 PAs throughout the U.S. whose education in general medicine prepares them to be extremely nimble, positioning them very well to address an influx of 20 million new patients entering the healthcare system,” said Lawrence Herman, MPA, PA-C, DFAAPA and president of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).
In light of a projected physician shortage—estimated at 90,000 by 2020, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges—PAs have the training, flexibility and agility to respond immediately to the healthcare needs of millions of previously uninsured patients. In fact, PAs practice medicine and in surgery across all settings and specialties including family medicine, primary care, emergency medicine, surgery, oncology, psychiatry, radiology and pediatrics.
“PAs can perform up to 85 percent of the duties of physicians, including prescribing medicine, which allows us to pivot easily in diverse practice settings, bridge gaps in care and solve patient problems in this new era of healthcare,” said Herman. “Now, more than ever, America needs PAs.”
Increased access to care is especially important in critical health arenas such as primary care and under served areas. Nearly 1 in 3 PAs (32 percent) practice in primary care and 37 percent of PAs work in medically under served counties of the U.S.
Results of AAPA’s annual survey of the PA profession exemplify the specific ways that PAs
are meeting patients’ healthcare needs. According to the survey, the top clinical procedures
performed by PAs include: writing prescriptions (82 percent), acute care management (80
percent), chronic disease management (64 percent), follow-up patient calls (63 percent),
care coordination (58 percent), clinical consultations (55 percent), minor surgical
procedures (52 percent), clinical preventive services (49 percent), first assisting in surgery
(24 percent), phone triage (23 percent) and end-of-life care (14 percent).
Since 2006, the PA profession has grown 34 percent and is expected to continue growing.
According to the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician
Assistant (ARC-PA), more than 7,000 new PAs graduate annually from 173ARC-PA
accredited programs throughout the U.S. The profession has nearly doubled in size in the
last 10 years.
A PA is a graduate of an accredited PA educational program who is nationally certified and
state-licensed to practice medicine. PA master’s degree programs take about two and a half
years to complete and are modeled on the medical school curriculum, a combination of
classroom education and more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations. All 50 states and the
District of Columbia allow PAs to practice and prescribe medicine.
The profession will honor PAs’ invaluable role in transforming healthcare during National
PA Week. Held every year from Oct. 6 - 12, PA Week is a time when PAs and PA students
celebrate their profession through local and national events designed to increase
awareness of the value PAs bring to today’s healthcare team.
Eighty-six percent of PAs report being very satisfied with their jobs. See real stories and
videos of America’s PAs in action at www.pasconnect.org.
National Physician Assistant Week is celebrated October 6th through October 12th. The Physician Assistant Profession is one of the fastest growing health careers in the country.
For 46 years, the Physician Assistant profession has provided quality medical care in this country and has made an important impact on patient access to care.
The profession has grown from the first handful of graduates from Duke University in 1967. They were former Navy corpsmen returning from Vietnam. Dr. Eugene Stead created the profession to maximize utilization of their existing skills and experience as civilian healthcare providers during a shortage of primary care physicians. Dr. Stead based the curriculum of the PA program on his knowledge of the fast-track training of doctors during World War II.
Today, more than 93,000 Certified PAs currently care for patients in a wide variety of medical specialties.
Data from 2010 from The American Academy of Physician Assistant (AAPA) show that PAs see more than 319 million patients and write almost 265 million prescriptions each year.
A national report on Physician Assistants, working with physicians as a team, showed that solo physicians who utilize PA’s can increase the number of patients seen.
Physician Assistants can provide a broad range of medical services that, in the past, were performed only by licensed physicians.
PA's take medical histories, perform physical examinations, order
and interpret tests, make diagnoses, establish and carry out treatment
plans, suture wounds, assist in surgery and can write prescriptions in nearly all states.
Over 50% of all PA’s provide primary care, which is defined as family and general medicine, internal medicine, pediatric care, and ob/gyn care. PA's practice medicine with the supervision by licensed physicians.
Physician Assistants are employed by solo physician practices, health maintenance organizations, group practices, nursing homes and hospitals. PA’s also serve as commissioned officers in all branches of the military and practice as members of the White House medical team caring for the President and Vice President.
To become a Physician Assistant, an individual must graduate
from one of accredited programs in the United States.
PA's are required to pass a national certifying board examination before they can practice medicine.
Physician Assistants are required to accumulate 100 continuing medical education credits every two years, in order to maintain national board certification and PA's retake the certifying exam every six years.