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What is a Physician Assistant?

A Physician Assistant is a Clinician or Medical Provider that is capable of providing a level of care comparable to a Physician or Nurse Practitioner. According to authors Mittman, Cawley, and Fenn in an article published in PA World, "Physician assistants are clinicians who are licensed throughout the United States to practice medicine in association with physicians. They perform many of the tasks previously done solely by their physician partners, including examination, diagnosis, and carrying out investigations, as well as treatment and prescribing. All physician assistants must be associated with a physician... They are not to be confused with 'medical assistants,' who in the United States are support workers. Physician assistants are not independent practitioners but practice-focused autonomous professionals delivering care in partnership with physicians, in a role described as 'negotiated performance autonomy."'

The same authors state about Physician Assistants that "numerous studies have shown that the quality of care given by physician assistants is at the level of that given by physicians in comparable situations, with high levels of patient satisfaction. Actuarial data do not show any increased liability as a result of using physician assistants. A growing body of research and extensive clinical experience shows that they are accepted by both patients and doctors and that their performance in terms of quality of care, expanded access, and cost effectiveness is satisfactory...

"Physician Assistants treat most primary care illnesses on their own without direct supervision by their physician partner. There are no 'physician patients' as opposed to 'physician assistant patients.' Physician Assistants routinely deal with uncomplicated sprains, strains, hypertension, bronchitis, depression, allergies, asthma, gynaecological problems, family planning, and trauma."

The complete article can be reviewed here.

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