Candidate Corner

National Physician Assistant Week Shines a Light on a Key Profession

Posted by Anonymous at 10/9/2017 2:35:50 PM

Happy PA Week!

National Physician Assistant Week Shines a Light on a Key Profession

By Travis Singleton

October 6th – October 12th marks National Physician Assistant Week – a good time to reflect on how PAs are making a growing contribution to healthcare access and quality in the United States.

According to the 2016 Survey of PA Recruiting and Employment Trends, which Merritt Hawkins conducted in conjunction with the American Academy of Physician Assistant (AAPA), 90 percent of U.S. hospitals now employ PAs. The number for hospitals of 200 beds or more is 96 percent. Sixty percent of hospitals are currently recruiting PAs and 58% expect PAs to take on a greater role within their facilities.

There are over 110,000 PAs practicing in the U.S. today, about one-third of them in primary care and two-thirds in specialty care. PAs are coming to the fore in healthcare in part because they offer patients access to services at a time when the supply of physicians is constrained. In 2017, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projected there will be a deficit of up to 104,900 physicians by 2030.

Physician shortages already are being felt by patients. Merritt Hawkins’ 2017 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times indicates that the average time to make a physician new patient appointment has grown from 20.5 days in 2009 to 24.1 days in 2017, a 30 percent increase.

PAs expand the medical workforce by handling some of the more routine maladies patients present, by assisting with procedures, helping with patient education, ensuring compliance and, in general, enhancing quality of care.

Their training and expertise fit perfectly into the “team-based” concept of care in which physicians, advanced practitioners, nurses, care coordinators and other professionals each practice “to the top of their training” along a continuum of care.

PAs also fit the staffing concept behind the “convenient care” movement, and now practice at a growing number of urgent care centers and retail clinics nationwide. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) were among to first facilities to utilize PAs within the team-based model, and now PAs work at thousands of FQHC sites across the country.

Ninety percent of patients surveyed in a study conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the the AAPA said PAs make it easier to get an appointment and improve quality of care, showing that the important role PAs play has not gone unnoticed by the public.

Merritt Hawkins is proud to recruit PAs to hospitals, medical groups, urgent care centers, FQHCs and other facilities across the country. We extend our best wishes to PAs during National Physician Assistant Week and welcome any comments readers may have on the role PAs are playing in today’s evolving healthcare system. Those who would like a complete copy of the Survey of PA Recruitment and Employment Trends are welcome to email me here.

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