How much do you know about PAs?
PA Awareness Month Oct 6-12, 2017
Every year from October 6th to the 12th the American Academy of PAs (AAPA) celebrates and recognizes the PA profession and its incredibly important contribution to America’s healthcare system. This year, as we celebrate the profession’s 50th birthday, OrthoNOW joins AAPA to honor these medical professionals throughout the entire month of October.
PAs, short for Physician Assistants, are nationally certified and state licensed medical professionals that work hand in hand with physicians and other medical providers. A certified PA is licensed to practice medicine and prescribe medication in all US states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and the uniformed services. Fairly similar to doctors, PAs duties include diagnosing and treating illnesses/conditions, performing physical examinations, assisting in surgeries, making rounds in hospitals/medical centers and performing assigned tasks during procedures.
But an OrthoNOW trained PA is even more. To become certified as a PA who diagnoses and treats patients at an OrthoNOW Center, PAs must have specialized in orthopedics in their education and training, learned the OrthoNOW protocols and guidelines, and they must complete the OrthoNOW Clinical Competency exam.
As part of our commitment with patient education, our orthopedic specialists at OrthoNOW, the nation’s only orthopedic urgent care franchise, are joining the PA Awareness movement and debunking the top 5 misconceptions about PAs:
- PAs don’t need extensive education or background in healthcare: Incorrect! Many people believe that the road to becoming a PA is quick and easy—that can’t be farther from the truth. PAs must have obtained a BA, in either a Pre-PA major or in a health sciences major. Once completed, they must enroll in a masters PA program. While masters’ degrees vary by school, the majority require at least three years of healthcare experience. For that reason, it’s common that many PAs once worked as EMTs, paramedics and even nurses. After completing their masters, graduates must then take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), and once passed, they are finally certified to practice in their field. However, just like doctors, PAs must also complete certain hours of continued education throughout their career. OrthoNOW PAs must complete additional requirements and pass an exam in orthopedics before continuing.
- Physician Assistants don’t specialize: Incorrect again! PAs can advance their career path by specializing in a specific field. Some of the specializations available are: nutrition, vascular health, ambulatory care, family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine, psychiatry or orthopedic care. All OrthoNOW PAs have advanced their career and are specialists in orthopedics.
- PAs can’t diagnose, treat or prescribe medicine: False! PAs are certified as medical generalists with a foundation in primary care. They can practice and prescribe medicine in all 50 U.S. states, territories, District of Columbia and uniformed service. Given that PA programs are modeled on the medical school curriculum, PAs also learn how to make medical decisions while working both individually or in collaboration with other medical professionals. OrthoNOW PAs diagnose, treat, and prescribe medicine to OrthoNOW patients – and often provide a unique perspective to OrthoNOW surgeons, if required.
- PAs can’t care for a patient without a doctor’s supervision: Nope! It’s important to note that Physician Assistants are not physicians’ assistants. In 2010 the Affordable Care Act recognized PAs as one of the three primary care providers, along with Physicians and Nurse Practitioners. In other words, PAs (unless surgical) can work autonomously, and if need be, they can consult with their supervising doctor. OrthoNOW PAs bring their breadth of knowledge to each patient’s individual situation and provide valuable perspectives to OrthoNOW surgeons, if needed.
- PAs aren’t necessary for the healthcare system: Completely false! Studies have shown that the most successful healthcare facilities make best use of their PAs. In fact, PAs are one of the most in demand professionals today. According to Merritt Hawkins, the healthcare search firm, the demand for PAs has increased over 300% in the past 6 years. Additionally, Forbes, USA Today and other top media outlets have named the PA profession as the most promising job in America. The major reason for this demand is because of the high satisfaction rates among Americans who have been treated by PAs. A survey by Harris Poll found that 93% of patients consider PAs as trusted healthcare providers, 92% said that being seen by a PA facilitates the process of getting an appointment, and 91% believe that PAs improve the quality of healthcare. OrthoNOW PAs consistently rank very high in patient surveys for “explained things in a way that was easy to understand” and overall rating among all clinicians the patient has ever seen.
Physician extenders are critical, particularly in this important era where a vast MD/DO shortage is being anticipated due to the baby boomer aging, issues with medical school & residency funding and challenges to the profession in general. The industry expects a shortage of 110,000 physicians in the next decade, which is another prominent reason for the high demand of PAs. Physician extenders will ultimately allow for more efficient and timely healthcare delivery.
Now that you’ve learned more of the work that PAs do day in and day out, join us in educating the rest of the community about this profession! OrthoNOW wouldn’t be able to treat all its patients with such high satisfaction if it wasn’t for the amazing work that the Physician Assistants do in caring for the patients’ health, and for that reason we thank them for their devotion. For more information on OrthoNOW’s locations and services visit www.orthonowcare.com or download our award winning mobile app, available on Google Play and the App Store.
OrthoNOW®, the nation’s only orthopedic urgent care franchise, is focused on assessment and treatment of a range of orthopedic and sports injuries, chronic conditions, and preventative protocols – all on a walk-in basis. Specialties include anything related to the foot, ankle, knee, hip, wrist, hand, elbow, shoulder and spine.
Every OrthoNOW® is equipped with digital imaging equipment and offers the latest techniques and treatments by a team of orthopedic clinicians and orthopedic specialized ancillary providers including Neuro Muscular Therapy which dramatically alleviates acute and chronic pain and expedites recovery time from surgery.
OrthoNOW® recently launched the mobile app v2.0 for iPhone users which features a revolutionary feature called On My Way NOW® which allows patients to notify an OrthoNOW® Center that they are in route, the reason they’re coming and what time they expect to arrive. The recently released upgraded app now includes integration with Uber. OrthoNOW’s flagship center is in Doral, Florida, with franchised Centers in Florida, Georgia and other locations coming soon.