The Allergy Group just added a Physician Assistant (PA) to our awesome team. To say the least, she is AMAZING!! Dedicated and well read! Here is an article by her addressing how PAs play an integral role in today’s health care needs. – Dr. T

If you haven’t already received medical care from a physician assistant, chances are that someday you will. More and more, PAs are becoming familiar players on the health care team. Don’t be thrown by the “assistant” in their title. Physician assistants undergo intensive medical training and provide many of the same services as doctors. Here’s a quick look at the PA profession, and a sample of what they have to offer. A PA is a licensed medical professional who can examine, test, treat and prescribe medication for patients. Like physicians, the exact duties of the PA depend on the type of medical setting in which they work and their level of experience, specialty and the state laws where they practice.

Here’s a partial list of what PAs can do: obtain patient medical histories, conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illness, order and interpret tests, develop treatment plans, counsel on preventative health care, assist in surgery and write prescriptions. Physician Assistants are required to work with a supervising physician. They are considered dependent practitioners, so if they ever seeing a patient and are not clear what to do, or it’s a complicated case, they always have a physician to consult with. Yet PAs can be quite autonomous, and supervision can come from a distance. If you live in a rural area, your PA might be the only primary care provider for miles around. In that case, the PA will pick up the phone to collaborate with the supervising physician.

“We really work as a team, so it’s like putting two heads together.”

Physician assistants follow a similar path as doctors in their medical training, but shorter. As undergraduates, students have much the same premed requirements, and then during PA training, take similar academic courses – but in one year compared to the medical students’ two. While PA graduate-level programs take about two years to complete, medical school takes roughly four years, followed by a residency. Many PA students have prior health care experience – for instance, as paramedics or in the military. “You name me a medical specialty, and I’ll tell you a PA who’s in it,” says John McGinnity, president of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Flexibility is a key attribute of the physician assistant, he says. PAs are trained and nationally certified as generalists, and with quickly changing medical advancements, they’re continually updating their education and skills to provide safe, quality care. He says PAs are a boon to the health care workforce, not only in underserved rural areas, but in urban and suburban hospitals and everywhere else in between. The roots of the PA profession go back to the Vietnam War era, when the return of medically trained and skilled Navy corpsmen coincided with a U.S. shortage of primary care physicians in the mid-1960s, especially in rural areas. Four corpsmen made up the 1967 graduating class of the original PA program at Duke University. Today, the number of PAs nationwide is “exploding” at nearly 100,000, says Charlene Morris, president of the North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants. You can see a PA for anything – any health concern – and that is the uniqueness of the PA. They’ll do a very comprehensive history, a thorough physical examination and they’ve been trained to develop a differential diagnosis and can provide treatment. One reason people are attracted to the PA profession is as a PA, you usually have the luxury of spending more time with the patient. So come all, see for yourself and meet your new Physician Assistant at the The Allergy Group! I am certainly looking forward to meeting you! Brianne Ayers PA-C Meet our Doctors and staff.