Physician assistant


A Physician Assistant (PA) is a healthcare professional who is licensed by the state to practice medicine as part of a team with the supervision of a physician.[1] This supervision need not be direct, on-site or in real time. Many PA's practice in association with an offsite physician who reviews charts days to weeks later. A Physician Assistant (PA) is concerned with preventing and treating human illness and injury by providing a broad range of health care services that are traditionally performed by a physician.[2] Physician Assistants conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, prescribe medications, counsel on preventive health care and may assist in surgery.[3] PAs work in hospitals, clinics, and other types of health facilities, and exercise autonomy in medical decision making as determined by their supervising or sponsoring physician. A period of clinical training precedes obtaining a license to practice as a Physician Assistant. Renewal of licensure is necessary every few years, varying by state. They are educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training, rather than in the nursing model as nurse practitioners are.[citation needed] Physician Assistants are not to be confused with medical assistants, who perform administrative and simple clinical tasks with limited postsecondary education under the direct supervision of physicians and other health professionals, or nursing assistants.[citation needed] In the United States, the profession is represented by the American Academy of Physician Assistants. In Canada, it is represented by the Can dian Association of Physician Assistants. Similar providers have different titles in other countries such as clinical officers in Africa, assistant medical officers in Malaysia, Physician Assistants in the UK, Assistant Doctors in China, and Feldsher in countries of the former Soviet Union.[4] [edit]History The PA profession was first proposed when Dr. Charles L. Hudson recommended to the AMA in 1961 the "creation of two new groups of assistants to doctors from nonmedical and nonnursing personnel."[5] Dr. Eugene A. Stead, Jr. of the Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina assembled the first class of Physician Assistants in 1965, composed of former U.S. Navy hospital corpsmen.[6] He based the curriculum of the PA program in part on his first-hand knowledge of the fast-track training of medical doctors during World War II.[citation needed] Two other physicians, Dr. Richard Smith at the University of Washington, and Dr. Hu Myers at Alderson-Broaddus College, also launched their own programs in the mid and late 1960s.[7] It was not until 1970 that the AMA passed a resolution to develop educational guidelines and certification procedures for PAs.[7] The Duke University Medical Center Archives has established the Physician Assistant History Center, dedicated to the study, preservation, and presentation of the history of the PA profession.[8] In the United States, "National Physician Assistant Week" is celebrated annually from October 6 through October 12. This week was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the first graduating Physician Assistant class at Duke University on October 6, 1967.[9]