Please Don’t forget about Physician Assistants!

Dear public, news outlets, fellow healthcare workers, legislators, insurance companies and payors, medicare, and everyone else;

PLEASE DO NOT FORGET ABOUT PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS!!!

I am a healthcare provider, but specifically a physician assistant or PA. I am part of a profession that has been around since 1967 in the U.S. This position was created in response to the physician shortage during that time and to create better healthcare access for patients. I feel physician assistants are forgotten about when giving healthcare providers accolades or enacting legislature regarding practice because people do not clearly understand what we do and our role in their care. If any time is a good time to advocate and educate the public and elected officials about the importance of PAs, it is now. This is not about competition or who is bigger or better, it is about the people. The U.S will see a shortage of nearly 46,900 to 122,000 physicians by 2032 according to data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)! Physician Assistants can also help fill that gap! I say “also” because many articles or blogs written on this topic include Nurse Practitioners, but exclude us PAs!

PLEASE DO NOT FORGET ABOUT PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS!!!

PAs are healthcare providers that diagnose illness, prescribe medications, perform procedures, order diagnostic tests and interpret them, manage and develop treatment plans, counsel patients and their families on their illness. We are educated at a master’s degree level and perform more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations. We work in every state, in every medical setting and specialty, you can think of. Examples of where you may see a PA included a primary care office, urgent care, emergency department, surgery, pediatrician office, radiology, psychiatry….basically, everywhere.  I am sure many have encountered us in our white coats and assumed we were the medical doctor or nurse, despite us introducing ourselves and title. 

PLEASE DO NOT FORGET ABOUT PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS!!!

I want us to not be forgotten in the current health crisis. There are over 140,000 physician assistants in the U.S.! Emergency rooms, clinics, ICUs, inpatient departments are employed and staffed with physician assistants during this COVID pandemic. PAs, along with other healthcare providers, are risking their own health and the health of their loved ones to take care of the sick we already planned to see with cold and flu season, plus the sick from COVID19. While emergency legislation will be pushed regarding healthcare providers and healthcare access, I want physician assistants to not be excluded from any advancement and ability to practice with full authority. This is not a matter of ego, but a matter of providing the general population with high-quality care. Now is the time for each state to eliminate the legal requirement for a specific relationship between a PA, physician, or any other healthcare provider in order for a PA to practice to the full extent of their education, training, experience AND authorize PAs to be eligible for direct payment by all public and private insurers. The time is now! This is something that will help so many people get the healthcare and access they need in a timely fashion. Remember, people still need to have their chronic health care problems managed during this time. 

What can we do? Fellow PAs, be sure you are a member of your state physician assistant organization because the numbers do matter. We are a force when we work together on one accord. Work with your state organization’s advocacy chair, house of delegates, and voice your questions, wants and needs. Also, be sure you are a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). Run for an elected position. Contact your state legislators about the advancement of PA practice. Educate and inform people you come in contact with about the awesome career you have as a PA. Volunteer at schools so children aspire to go the PA route, but to also increase awareness about our profession. Media outlets and reporters, do not forget to include physician assistants in healthcare stories, in healthcare opinion pieces, or healthcare educational topics. Hospital organizations, do not forget to include physician assistants in leadership positions and decision-making, we are qualified for such tasks. 

All healthcare providers matter and we must collectively work to ensure that all are provided the opportunity to serve to their fullest capacity.  Our goal should always be to meet the needs of the people we take care of.

I am Jackie

#JackiethePA

#COVID19

#PAsMatter

#PAsDoThat

#YourPACan

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