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Physician Assistants - Term Paper Example

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Instructor name: Unit Name: Date Topic:  Historical context; Physician Assistants The need for physician assistant was felt in the mid 1960s after United States experienced high population growth, increased care needs for chronic disease, advancing technology, and economic growth…
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Unit Topic:  Historical context; Physician Assistants The need for physician assistant was felt in the mid1960s after United States experienced high population growth, increased care needs for chronic disease, advancing technology, and economic growth. The few doctors that were already in practice were not able to attend to all the patients hence the need for physician assistants to assist the doctors in taking up the roles for primary care. Therefore, physician's assistants filled that gap and were rapidly accepted in the United States. The physician’s assistants are currently certified professional practitioners in the United States, whose range of practice is determined by the level of his or her training, experience, and state laws. The profession of the physician assistant has been dogged by many controversies. In its formation, there was a tag of war between the AMA (American Medical Association) and the ANA (American Nursing Association). The latter claimed that the former was working in a bid to make nursing obsolete. Under this background, the relationship between the autonomous professions of nursing and medicine continued to sore. It was therefore prudent that a physician assistant be developed so that he can assist the qualified physician. Therefore, such a professional cannot assume autonomy since he/she ultimately takes instructions from the physician. Some physician assistants are the major care providers in areas where the physician is usually occasionally present. This is especially evident in the rural or poor areas that are more likely to suffer doctor shortages Although the position of physician assistant was mainly created to assume the duty of primary care their duties have increased rapidly and their services have been evident in other departments including medical and surgical departments. The migration of nurses to become physician assistants from the primary health care sector to other departments such as medical sections has been contributed to the need for better payment. This was also another point of contention between the ANA and the AMA since the former claimed that the latter was sabotaging it by offering higher payments to people that were not as qualified. These contentions are the reasons that the PA was developed since the two professions of nursing and medicine could not cooperate to provide healthcare without many complications and overlapping. In the historical context physician assistant education in the United States has an extensive general training framework which is aimed at producing undifferentiated physician assistants.  This therefore enables the physician assistants to be flexible in their careers. Additionally, the continued education in all the three professional departments of medicine, nursing and physician assistance has ensured that the level of healthcare has improved. Moreover the fact that there is training for a more qualified individual with both nursing and medical knowhow has also largely been of assistance. Since physician assistants usually practice alongside other health professionals it is important to compare them with other health officials such as nurses and doctors. Contrary to nurses, physician and their assistants do not perform clerical roles. Whereas a physician assistant may diagnose a patient, most nurses, with the exception of nurse practitioners lack the ability to make a diagnosis. Nurses have the responsibility of taking care of the patients using directives given by the physician. In addition they have the duty of monitoring and assessing the condition of the patient and report any changes in the patient to the doctor. However unlike nurse practitioners that usually operate autonomously without direct supervision from the physician the physician assistant lack the autonomy and therefore are incapable of operating independently. They can examine a patient, take medical history, order, and interpret laboratory tests and x-rays. A physician assistant may also treat certain injuries, such as those requiring splinting, suturing, and casting. In most of the United States, a physician assistant is also allowed to give prescriptions. In order to become a physician assistant, one must complete a physician assistant program and pass a national exam after which he or she receives a license to practice. Unlike physicians, it is not mandatory that PAs have to complete internships or residencies. Nurses also have particular educational requirements they must meet, with nurse practitioners having the most amount of education required, namely a masters degree. However research indicate that certified physician assistants usually earner better salaries than nurses. In addition studies indicate that physician assistants are usually flexible in their profession and a number of them are bound to change their specialties. Hospitals, large managed care organizations, the Department of Defense, the Veterans Health Administration, and other institutions have employed physician assistants to perform roles of medical staff. It is unfortunate that family medicine, an area that usually depends on the physician assistants, has experienced a high number of PA shift to other specialties. This shift is attributed to low salary payments in this sector as compared to other specialties in addition to the new role opportunities in the broadening spectrum of medicine. Popular specialty choices for physician assistants include emergency medicine, dermatology, orthopedics, cardiovascular medicine, and the internal medicine subspecialties. One reason that may explain the career flexibility is the wide and general education and training that is usually given to those who want to become physician assistants. PA educational programs teach the full spectrum of general medicine to prepare graduates to enter many specialty roles in both primary and non-primary care. Along the career path, PAs may shift their focus based on availability. The physician assistant sees an abundant job reservoir and makes choices based on factors such as location, salary, and specialty of interest. The obverse side of the career mobility coin is career stability. At least half of all PAs remain in their first chosen specialty throughout their careers, with primary care at the top of the list. This staying power in one career is well established throughout health care but has not been described in any systematic way for physician assistants (Perri & Roderick, 2010, 887-892). PAs have also been adjudged as being very altruistic in their endeavors. In the studies conducted, it is evident that the Pas work as much as the physicians and provide very professional care and as thus have been tipped to be successors of the physicians as they are an ageing population. Conclusion PAs were initially intended to perform primary health care duties. Therefore the role played by the physician assistants is essential in the primary health care sector. However this has time and again changed due to the need for better salaries that have prompted the Pas to adopt specialty practice especially in areas such as medical and surgical. The career mobility experienced by physician assistants therefore call for the need to address the issue of medical personnel shortage particularly in the primary health care. This can be done by coming up with policy initiatives that can aimed at promoting primary health care services such as offering educational grants to both individuals and institutions that intend to assume their roles in the that sector. In addition since most physician assistants are bound to migrate from the primary health care sector where their services are mostly required because of poor salaries, initiatives should be undertaken to ensure that all those working in the primary health sector receive better payment as their counter parts in other sectors such as surgical and medical. Bibliography Perri A.Morgan and Roderick S. Hooker. “Choice Of Specialties among Physician Assistants in the United States,” Health Affairs, 29, no.5 (2010):887-892.  Read More
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