The Increasing Role of Physician Assistants

The role of Physician Assistants (PA) grew in the 1960s in response to a shortage of doctors. This demand for PAs has continued to grow filling a void in the healthcare system. Also, with healthcare evolving, taking care of patients has now become a team effort, which includes PAs and nurses. PAs are vital members of this team.

Presently, PAs work in most specialties of medicine that doctors practice such as dermatology, cardiology, gynecology, oncology, pediatrics, emergency medicine and general surgery. Although PAs don’t have the same length of training as doctors, they can do many of the same things. According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), they can examine patients, order tests, diagnose and treat illnesses and, within limits, write prescriptions. They are educated to work together with physicians in a collaborative, team-based approach. As part of a medical team, they can improve coordination of care and patient outcome. They alleviate the pressure on doctors by decreasing their work-load. All of this at a lower cost than physicians which benefits not only the patient but the entire healthcare system.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of PAs is projected to grow 37 percent from 2016 to 2026. As demand for healthcare services grows, more PAs will be needed to provide care to patients.

Recruiting firms are experiencing a significant increase in the demand for PAs. This is likely in response not only to factors such as physician shortage but also tightening of reimbursements by insurance providers. PAs can provide quality care that is cost-effective.

This has created an opportunity for medical recruiters to focus on this field.