Increasing access to care requires a full team. In a March 30 opinion piece, Froma Harrop boldly says, “Sometimes we need a doctor; sometimes we don’t” when referring to nurse practitioners. In actuality, this applies equally to physician assistants.
Facing a looming shortage of primary care physicians, we agree. A team-based approach is the only way to increase access to health care, and physician assistants play a vital role in health care’s future along with the NPs described in Harrop’s article.
PAs are licensed to practice medicine as part of a physician-led team in nearly every medical setting and specialty, and this means increased access to primary care. PAs are designated primary care providers in the Affordable Care Act, and states continue to update laws that allow us to practice to the top of our education and training.
PAs diagnose and treat patients, prescribe medication, order and perform diagnostic tests and assist at surgery. Getting high quality, cost-effective personalized care when you need it is all that matters, and 90,000 certified PAs are at the ready.