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Physician Assistants Notice



Physician Assistants (PAs) are licensed health professionals who practice medicine with physician, supervision. As part of the physician/PA team, PAs exercise autonomy in diagnosing and treating illnesses. PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services to diverse populations in both rural and urban settings throughout the United States. Their focus is patient care, and their practice may include education, research, and administrative activities. In most states, PAs can treat patients when the physician is away from the practice and can write prescriptions.


PAs are highly skilled professionals educated to use the same medical procedures as their physician counterparts. For example, PAs take medical histories, perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret laboratory tests, perform minor surgery, and in most states can prescribe medications, PAs practice in virtually every medical specialty -from family medicine to surgery. To allow the P A/physician team to be more efficient in extending care to their patients, most states do not require the PA and physician to be at the same location. For example, the PA may be seeing patients in a clinic while the supervising physician is at the hospital or in a central office. All state laws require the supervising physician to be immediately available for consultation, usually by telephone, while a PA is seeing patients. A hallmark, of physician assistant practice is that PAs practice as part of a team. They are educated to recognize when patients need the attention of a supervising physician or another specialist. PAs enjoy a collegial relationship with other providers because they have demonstrated their commitment to their patients and their competence in delivering quality care.


Physician assistant education is modeled on that of physicians, although it is shorter. All PA programs must meet the same stringent requirements for national accreditation. Students undergo a rigorous education to become a PA. The typical program is 108 weeks, compared to 153 weeks for medical, school. The first year includes classroom and laboratory instruction in the medical sciences - from, anatomy to pharmacology- and medical ethics. His second year involves structured clinical rotations, providing the PA student with direct patient contact in medical disciplines such as family practice, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, surgery, and emergency medicine. PA programs are offered by medical schools, colleges and universities, teaching hospitals, and the military.


Before they can practice, graduates of accredited. PA programs must pass a single national certification exam developed by the National Board of Medical Examiners and administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Only those individuals with current certification may use die designation "Physician Assistant-Certified" or PA-C. To maintain certification, PAs must earn 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and sit for a recertification exam every six years. These requirements keep them abreast of medical advances.


Today, the physician assistant profession is ranked as one of health care's fastest-growing fields. One reason is PAs help people use the health care delivery system more effectively and efficiently. They make quality health care more available by providing those services needed by patients in a cost-effective way to the practice. Their training as team players enables them to work with other providers to ensure appropriate patient care in all settings, PAs, working with the supervision of physicians, deliver the highest quality of medical care.