With the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, physician assistants (PA-Cs) are poised to fill the primary care provider shortage and deliver quality health care to the approximately 32 million new patients with access to health care services.
According to projections by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the U.S. will face a shortfall of 40,000 family physicians in 2020, just as the number of older and underserved patients and demand for care is expected to be at its highest.
While patients and their loved ones stand to gain from greater access to care, the reality is that physicians across America are already working beyond capacity, particularly in rural and frontier communities.
The shortage of family physicians nationwide is taking a toll on the availability of quality health care in western Colorado, as seen by increasingly longer wait times for doctor's appointments, delays in filing and filling prescriptions and seeing specialists.
A practical solution for the shortage of physician's exists: Experts say highly trained and certified physician assistants and nurse practitioners are making it possible for more patients in all areas of western Colorado to get needed health care. Olathe Community Clinic exemplifies this approach to effective medical treatment. Jeannie Mueller PA-C, RD, CDE, and Rachel Stranathan, PA-C, greatly expand the practice's ability to provide health care to underserviced residents of Montrose and Delta counties.
To recognize the contributions of PA-Cs locally and nationally in providing quality patient care, the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) celebrates PA-Cs during National Physician Assistant Week Oct. 6-12.
Physician assistants are licensed health care professionals who practice medicine as members of a team with a collaborating physician. PA-Cs must undergo rigorous training that involves both clinical and classroom components. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, physician assistants prescribe medication, conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care and assist in surgery. PA-Cs must pass a national board exam and recertify every six years. In addition, a PA-C must earn and log 100 continuing medical education hours every two years.
Physician assistants are essential members of a team-based approach to patient care. Physician assistants can lower demand for care by improving prevention, education and coordination of care.
For more information about the physician assistant profession, visit the American Academy of Physician Assistants web page at www.aapa.org.blog comments powered by Disqus