Physician Assistants Focus on Preventive Care During National PA Week

Oct 06, 2011, 13:18 ET from American Academy of Physician Assistants

With More Than 300 Million Patient Visits Annually, America's PAs Are Transforming Care

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An ounce of prevention is worth far more than a pound of cure to reduce the number of patients throughout the U.S. combating chronic illnesses, according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Physician assistants across all specialties are practicing medicine on the front lines of preventive care every day, serving as "prevention ambassadors" and helping millions of patients prevent illness and disease.  

"It is vitally important for all members of the health care team—physicians, PAs, nurses and others—to work together to help our patients live longer, healthier lives by providing preventive care," says AAPA President Robert Wooten, PA-C. "Because they graduate with a medical generalist education, PAs are uniquely positioned to identify symptoms and lifestyle challenges that lead to chronic illnesses or cause existing conditions to worsen, no matter the specialty they choose."

The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that treatment for chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, accounts for more than 75 percent of national expenditures on health care costs. Yet, according to the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council, half of Americans do not receive the preventive care they need to live healthy lives.

More than 81,000 PAs currently care for patients in a wide variety of medical specialties. New 2010 data from AAPA show that PAs see more than 319 million patients and write almost 265 million prescriptions each year.  

"Their unique skill set truly sets PAs apart as prevention ambassadors. PAs often make time to listen to patients' concerns, to answer questions and to help manage and prevent chronic illnesses," says Wooten. "As key members of the health care team, PAs help to ensure continuity, comprehensiveness, and coordination of care as they work with physicians and other health care professionals."

AAPA is excited to be working with like-minded health care organizations and provider groups, such as the American Cancer Society in its effort during October (National Cancer Prevention Month), to optimize health delivery options, while reducing the risk of illness, injury and premature death.

PA Week is observed each year October 6–12 by the PA profession. The week celebrates the significant impact PAs make in health care and the tremendous growth of the profession by saluting the contributions PAs make every day.

About the American Academy of Physician Assistants
Founded in 1968, the American Academy of Physician Assistants is the national professional society for physician assistants. It represents a profession of over 81,000 certified PAs across all medical and surgical specialties in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the majority of the U.S. territories, and within the uniformed services. AAPA advocates and educates on behalf of the profession and the patients PAs serve. It works to ensure the professional growth, personal excellence and recognition of physician assistants and to enhance their ability to improve the quality, accessibility and cost-effectiveness of patient-centered health care. Visit to learn more.

SOURCE American Academy of Physician Assistants