In 1965 when many corpsmen were returning from the Vietnam War there was a perceived shortage of physicians. Many of these corpsmen were well trained to address trauma and surgical conditions. In order to address the health care delivery issues of the time the Department of Medicine at Duke University established a formal two year program to educate “Physicians Assistants”. The model for this program was based in part on Dr Eugene Stead’s experience of fast-track training of doctors during WWII. The Physician Assistant was initially trained to be a substitute for a Physician who could provide medical care to medically underserved populations and rural areas but did require physician supervision.
A Physician Assistant, PA, is a medical professional trained to be part of team with physicians and other providers. In the United States a Physician Assistant is nationally certified and state licensed to practice medicine under a Physician’s supervision. Qualifications for PA in the US can be gained in less time than it takes to get a medical degree. The PA is educated more broadly as a generalist with a wealth of clinical knowledge and is given decision making authority in regards to patient care, diagnosis and treatment.
Physician Assistants are educated and trained to do patient examinations, diagnose illness and injury and provide necessary treatments. PA’s can prescribe medications, take medical histories, order and interpret laboratory tests and x-rays.
Physician Assistants, PA, have an exciting future as there is great need for the services provided in Locum Tenens, Travel Assignments and Jobs all over the U.S. Jobs are available today if you have what it takes to make it happen and we are here to help!
Duties of a Physician Assistant may include:
Assessing patient health through interview and/or examination including updating and studying the medical history.
Charting and documentation of patient services in department records.
Identify patient care issues and provide information to recommend courses of action and options available while implementing the directives of the supervising physician.
Order or administer diagnostics such as x-rays, laboratory studies or other testing as required and interpret the results of these tests.
Administer injections and immunizations, perform therapeutic procedures such as managing infections and wounds, including suturing.
Provide counseling and instructions for the patient in regard to therapeutic regimens, normal growth and development information, emotional problems of daily living, health maintenance, and family planning. Develop and implement patient management plans.
Comply with regulations, rules and procedures in order to maintain a safe and clean environment. Adhere strictly to infection control protocols to protect patients and fellow employees.
Provide educational opportunities and information in order to develop a health care team.
Begin emergency measures and emergency treatment or appropriate stabilization measure in required situations such as shock, hemorrhage, cardiac arrest, convulsions, poisoning and emergency obstetric delivery.
Arrange hospital admissions and discharges under the direction of supervising physician.
Recently, The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), the Association of PA Programs and the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) created a document which outlines the Competencies of the Physician Assistant Profession. Educated in the medical model, a PA is defined by the AAPA as "a health professional who practices medicine with the supervision of a licensed physician." Physician utilization of physician assistants creates a unique health care team dedicated equally to:
increasing accessibility to high quality health care,
providing comprehensive health care services,
maintaining an atmosphere of caring and trust between the patient, the family, and the health care team, and
improving the continuity of patient care within the health care system.