PAs can help ad­dress our MD short­age

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

RE: Hamil­ton’s doc­tor short­age: We need help (June 29)

We were as con­cerned as any­one to read about the im­pact that the physi­cian short­age is hav­ing on health care in Hamil­ton. Physi­cian as­sis­tants (PAs) can help! PAs can ex­tend the ex­ist­ing physi­cian work­force, so that more pa­tients can have ac­cess to qual­ity care. This can be ev­i­denced by the 30 PAs em­ployed in the Hamil­ton area who are serv­ing pa­tients in primary care set­tings and Fam­ily Health Teams.

Work­ing in part­ner­ship with a PA, physi­cians can increase the num­ber of pa­tients seen, thereby al­low­ing the prac­tice to take on new pa­tients. PAs can also play a valu­able role in re­duc­ing wait times and im­prov­ing pa­tient flow in hos­pi­tal emer­gency de­part­ments as well as ex­pe­dite sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures. Un­der the su­per­vi­sion of physi­cians, PAs in primary care set­tings can be used for 75 per cent of all vis­its with­out re­fer­ral to a physi­cian and they can man­age up to 62 per cent of all pa­tients in emer­gency care en­vi­ron­ments.

Hir­ing ad­di­tional PAs in Hamil­ton will help to al­le­vi­ate the physi­cian short­age in the community. To help im­prove pa­tient care while re­duc­ing costs, we have called on the gov­ern­ment to ex­pand ac­cess to PAs im­me­di­ately. Now is the time.

Chris Rhule, pres­i­dent, Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Physi­cian As­sis­tants

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