It is National Physician Assistant Week.
The Physician Assistant Profession is one of the fastest growing health careers in the country.
For 45 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 84,000 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.
More information on the Physician Assistant Program
Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants (PSPA)
American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)
Physician Assistant History Society
Statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on National Physician Assistant Week
(Information From AAPA and PSPA)