What is a PA?
The physician assistant (PA) profession was founded on – and remains committed to – the concept of team practice. Working in all medical and surgical specialties, physician-PA teams enhance coordination and quality of care. The physician-PA team is effective because of the similarities in physician and PA training, the PA profession’s commitment to practice with supervision and the efficiencies created by utilizing the strengths of each professional in the clinical practice setting.
Physician assistants are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs perform a comprehensive range of medical duties, from basic primary care to high-technology specialty procedures. PAs often act as first or second assistants in major surgery and provide pre- and postoperative care.
In some rural areas where physicians are in short supply, PAs serve as the primary providers of health care, conferring with their supervising physicians and other medical professionals as needed and as required by law. PAs can be found in virtually every medical and surgical specialty.
The PAs responsibilities depend on the type of practice, his or her experience, the working relationship with physicians and other health care providers, and state laws. There are approximately 73, 893 PAs practicing in the United States and approximately 555 practicing in Maine.
The PA Educational Model:
PA education is modeled on physician education. This is analogous to premedical studies required of medical students. In Maine, PAs train using similar curriculum, training sites, faculties and facilities, physicians and PAs develop a similarity in medical reasoning during their schooling that eventually leads to standardized thought in the clinical workplace; PAs think like doctors.
PA students complete on average more than 2,000 hours of supervised clinical practice prior to graduation.