Health Alert: Physicians Assistants

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (WDTV) -- Physician’s Assistants (PAs) are vital to healthcare. So much so, that the Affordable Care Act, which was enacted in 2010, recognized physician’s assistants or PA’s for the first time as one of three primary care providers (PAs, Nurse Practitioners and Physicians).

Tonight on Health Alert, we discuss the importance of a physician’s assistant in your care. Joining us is Justin Brewer, MMS, PA-C, ATC, a physician’s assistant at UHC Orthopaedics.

Question: Tell us, what is the role of physician’s assistant?

Answer: Let me first say that when you go to your physician you may instead see the physician’s assistant. That is where my colleagues and I come in to help. A physician’s assistant (PA) practices medicine under the direction of physicians or surgeons, working as members of the health care team.

Question: So tell us more about what a physician’s assistant does on a daily basis?

Well as a member of the health care team, a physician’s assistant:

-Takes medical history

-Examines and treats patients

-Orders and interprets laboratory tests and x-rays

-Makes diagnosis

-Prescribes medications

So when you visit your doctor and you see a physician’s assistant instead of your doctor, don’t be alarmed. We are well versed in your care. Remember we all work as a team for you.

Question: What is the benefit to the patient?

Physician’s assistants (PAs) provide greater access to care. A lot of time our orthopaedic surgeons are in surgery and not able to see patients. So a PA is able to get patients into the clinics quicker to evaluate them for fractures and sports-related injuries. Therefore, expediting the process so that the patient can get back on the road to recovery faster.

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Question: What is the difference between a doctor and a physician’s assistant?

Answer: Physician’s assistants assist the doctors in surgical procedures; however, they are not licensed to perform surgery. Other than that, the major difference in job functions between a doctor and a physician’s assistant is that a doctor works autonomously, whereas a Pa always works under the supervision of the doctor.