5 Reasons Why Physician Assistants are Vital

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the demand for physician assistants (PAs) is only on the rise. It is projected to increase by 31 percent from 2018 to 2028. This high growth rate makes this position one of the fastest growing positions for all occupations. Physician assistants are one tier below medical doctors in a healthcare hierarchical setting.

These vital assistants examine, diagnose and treat patients under the guidance and direction of a physician. They have the authority and certifications necessary to prescribe medication, interpret test results, examine patients and give patients treatment plans. Because their responsibilities are vast, they have the ability to work in all specialties. Here are five reasons why they are vital to the healthcare industry.

#1 Support primary care physicians

Because physician assistants have the education and training necessary to treat patients, they have the skills required to provide more patients with the care they need. Doctors often do not have the time in their schedule to see as many patients as they would like.

It is in those circumstances that a PA can take on some patients and treat them under the direction of a doctor. Because there is a shortage of doctors and a surplus of patients needing care, one doctor’s office can employ three or four PAs to help them with caring for patients.

#2 Decrease doctors’ workload

Many believe that because PAs assist physicians, that their role takes work away from doctors. This is not the case as PAs are often over repetitive tasks doctors perform. For example, a PA in the field of surgery can assist a doctor in suture an incision after the doctor performs surgery. The belief the PAs take work away from doctors and physicians is not true, in fact, recent studies show that there is a shortage of doctors. It has been determined that by 2032, there will be a national shortage of between 47,000 and 122,000 physicians. 

With the projected shortage of physicians by 2032, physician assistants are needed now more than ever to help fill the growing gap between the care doctors have time to provide and the number of patients needing medical treatment.

#3 Care for more patients

Similar to how physician assistants can alleviate the workload of doctors and physicians, they have the ability to visit patients in more rural areas. Because PAs do not lead a medical clinic, they have the flexibility to visit patients who cannot make it to the clinic. They often perform home visits to meet the needs of patients. Because a PA’s education is so rigorous and in-depth, they have the knowledge to confidently diagnose and treat their patients at home without the supervision of a medical doctor.

#4 Physician assistants are versatile

Another reason why physician assistants are vital to the healthcare industry is because of the position’s versatility. There is no limit to what area of medicine for which they can work. Physician assistants can work in multiple areas, such as the emergency room, primary care clinics, family practice medicine, psychiatry specialties and even surgery.

#5 Liberty of specialization

Part of every PA’s schooling includes 2,000 to 4,000 hours of hands-on experience called rotations, which last for one academic year. This experience is similar to a doctor’s rotations. It is during these rotations that physician assistants are exposed to different specialties from neonatology to psychiatric hospitals.

The nature of a physician assistant’s education requirements and rotations can range greatly due to their in-depth and foundational education. They are one of the rare positions that allow graduates the liberty to change their fields of practice throughout their careers.

Finding physician assistants for your facility

The bottom line is physician assistants are vital to the healthcare industry because they help doctors provide the treatment patients need by reducing their workload. Physician assistant positions will rise in the coming years as the shortage of doctors and physicians only increases. If you are looking for a physician assistant for your healthcare facility, or for a physician assistant job, contact us today. 


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