Physician Assistant Essay

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Introduction to Health Professions

Physician Assistants are health care professionals who are trained and licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician. The role of the Physician Assistant (PA) came about during a shortage and uneven distribution of primary health care providers. In 1965, Dr. Eugene A. Stead was the chairman for the Department of Medicine at Duke University. Noticing the need to fill a void in the health care system, he took it upon himself to recruit the first class of PA’s. Stead enrolled a group of Navy corpsmen who had received considerable medical training during their military service in Vietnam. [1]

PA’s work in a variety of health care settings. In 2005, just over 56% worked in offices and clinics while about 36% were employed by hospitals. The remaining were employed mostly by public health clinics, nursing homes, schools, prisons, home health care agencies, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. [2] PA’s have a wide range of responsibilities including patient assessments, physical exams, ordering and interpreting lab tests, suturing of wounds, applying casts, teaching and counseling patients, and prescribing medications. While some states allow PA’s to carry a DEA number, most must prescribe controlled medications under the supervision of a physician.

The educational requirements to become a PA are extensive. Applicants to the two year PA program usually possess a bachelor’s degree and have about four years of health care experience. Across the United States, there are currently 130 programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The average program curriculum runs about 26 months. The first year includes basic science, behavioral science

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