Did you know that physician assistants (PAs) go back to the mid 1960’s? The return of medically trained and skilled Navy corpsmen during the Vietnam-war era coincided with a U.S. shortage of primary care physicians – especially in rural areas – and PAs began practicing alongside physicians. The 1967 graduating class of the original PA program at Duke University had four corpsmen, and in 1968, the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) was founded.
Jump to 2017. Today, there are nearly 100,000 certified PAs (between 1991 and 2008, the number of practicing PAs more than tripled from 20,000 to 68,000). Amid the nationwide shortage of doctors, more and more healthcare employers are utilizing PAs (and Nurse Practitioners) to fill the gaps in patient care. Locum tenens positions for PAs are increasing in number, too.
Earlier this year, Doximity Talent Finder expanded its membership to NPs and PAs – and now counts over 40,000 PAs in its membership. There are a lot of reasons PAs are on the rise and demand for PA is high, at the top of the list is they provide cost-effective care. “A practice employing a PA pays less in overhead costs for that PA compared to a physician, while having a healthcare provider on board who can provide most of the same services,” says the AAPA. PAs have been recognized by Congress and the President as crucial to improving U.S. healthcare.
Congress has also recognized PAs as one of three healthcare professions in primary care (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). The National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) reports that just over 28% of certified PAs practice in primary care (family medicine/general practice, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics), while top practice settings are private practice (43.7%), hospital (37.8%), federal government facility/hospital/unit (6%), community health center (3.7%), and rural health clinic (2.5%)
PAs are uniquely useful in a healthcare setting and “can perform up to 80 percent of the services physicians provide” (per Staff Care’s 2015 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends). Among the any reasons to hire a PA? They’re versatile and more readily available than physicians. Read other reasons in this great StaffCare article published during 2016’s PA week: 6 reasons to hire a locum tenens physician assistant.
If you’re recruiting PAs, the success of your hires likely rests on what you want the PA to do. State regulations, which differ across the country, will help with that decision. The AAPA offers a collection of tools and information to assist with hiring, and says this: “PAs provide high-quality care in all medical and surgical settings. They take medical histories, perform physical examinations, order and interpret laboratory tests, diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans for their patients, prescribe medications, and assist in surgery. Each PA’s scope of practice is defined at the practice level, taking into account the PA’s education and experience, state laws, employer policies, and needs of the practice.” The AAPA also offers tools team practice resources to enhance the unique relationship between PAs and physicians.
Are you using Doximity Talent Finder to recruit PAs? The platform allows you to search for candidates by specialty, location, certification, and more! Learn more with the click of a button, and request a walkthrough today.