National PA Week

Every year from Oct. 6 - 12 is National PA Week, which recognizes the physician assistant profession and its contributions to the medical community. This week is also an opportunity to raise awareness and visibility of the profession. This #PAweek, let’s honor all PAs do for their patients and their communities and all the ways they add value to healthcare!

Please join us in recognizing PAs for their critical work. Share this post using #PAweek to highlight the important role of physician assistants in the medical system.

Remind me, what is a physician assistant?

Don’t be fooled by the name. Though the word “assistant” may be in the title, a physician assistant is qualified to treat patients in many of the same ways as a medical doctor and PAs are integral parts of the healthcare system, especially in light of recent health care reform.

Similar to a medical doctor, PAs can obtain medical histories, conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, perform medical procedures, counsel patients on preventive healthcare, assist in surgery, write prescriptions and make rounds in nursing homes and hospitals.

What is the key difference between a PA and a medical doctor?

The simplified answer is the schooling. Instead of attending medical school and receiving an M.D., physician assistants are educated through intense, three-year, graduate-level programs that require the same prerequisite courses as medical schools. As part of their education, PAs complete at least 2,000 hours of clinical rotations. To maintain their certification and licenses, PAs earn 100 hours of CME every two years and recertify through a national exam as medical generalists every 10 years.

What are the benefits of having PAs?

Studies have revealed that the quality of care provided by PAs is comparable to that of physicians, PAs enhance care coordination, and practices and institutions relying on PAs are more cost-effective than those without PAs.