Doctors are vital to everyday life and the quality of care within communities. We all know that. Good doctors are knowledgeable, understanding, and patient. Many people search high and low to find a physician they’re comfortable with and trust.
However, the duties of a physician assistant rank very close to those of a doctor.
“Like physicians, a physician assistant is highly trained and skilled in the medical field,” physician assistant Stacie Moritz with Bradley Gynecology said. “We take patient’s health just as serious as a doctor.”
What does a physician assistant do?
Moritz explains that a physician assistant (PA) is a licensed medical professional who holds an advanced degree and is able to provide direct patient care. They work with patients of all ages in virtually all specialty and primary care areas, diagnosing and treating common illnesses and working with minor procedures.
With an increasing shortage of health care providers, PAs are a critical part of today’s team-based approach to health care. They increase access to quality health care for many populations and communities.
Scope of practice
The specific duties of a PA are determined by their supervising physician and state law, but they provide many of the same services as a primary care physician. They practice in every state and in a wide variety of clinical settings and specialties.
On a typical day, the roles and responsibilities of a PA include:
- Making rounds and performing patient exams
- Diagnosing illnesses
- Assisting in surgery
- Ordering and interpreting laboratory tests and X-rays
- Prescribing medications
- Developing and managing treatment plans
Advising patients on preventative care and optimal health practices
While PAs work in collaboration with a supervising physician, this does not mean they work under direct supervision of a physician. Most work independently, operating under a set scope of practice determined by state law. For example, each state has rules and regulations regarding which types of medication a PA can prescribe. Anything outside of that list requires additional consulting from a physician.