DC Patients Have Increased Access to Healthcare

Aug 20, 2013, 11:21 ET from American Academy of Physician Assistants

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Residents of the District of Columbia now have increased access to high-quality healthcare as a law went into effect that improved how physician assistants practice medicine in the nation's capital.

The District of Columbia Board of Medicine adopted regulations to enhance PA practice in March, and those regulations went into effect this month. The amendments removed a number of barriers which will streamline the care patients receive.

"Our community needs healthcare providers, and we are grateful to the DC Board of Medicine for expanding the ways that PAs can practice medicine," said Howard Straker, PA-C, president of the DC Academy of Physician Assistants (DCAPA). "Allowing PAs to practice to the fullest extent of their medical license and experience in a team-based and patient-focused approach to medicine is vital to increasing access to care."

These regulatory changes allow physician-PA teams to function in the way that works best for practices and patients. Among other things, the amendments removed a requirement that physicians countersign all orders, histories and physicals, progress notes or charts – and this detracted from best-practice models and the efficiency of care optimally delivered by the physician-PA team.

PAs are nationally certified and state licensed to practice medicine. They perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, prescribe medication, order and interpret lab tests and imaging studies, perform procedures, assist in surgery, provide patient education and counseling, and make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes. All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow PAs to practice and prescribe medications.

"There are 94,000 PAs practicing in this country and now, more than ever before, we will play a vital role in meeting the need for patient care," said Lawrence Herman, MPA, PA-C, AAPA president. "For nearly 50 years, PAs have worked with physicians in a team-based model of care because it works."

Herman also added that PAs are trained in the medical model meaning they sit through rigorous classroom training and then complete over 2,000 hours of hands-on training with patient on rotations before graduation from master level programs.

About the District of Columbia Academy of Physician Assistants
The District of Columbia Academy of Physician Assistants serves the needs of PAs and PA students who work or reside in metropolitan Washington, D.C. As the voice and advocate of PAs in D.C., DCAPA promotes continuing education for its members, provides PA employment information to PAs and physicians, and strengthens the role of PAs by supporting and encouraging membership in DCAPA.

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 more than 94,000 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 healthcare. Visit www.aapa.org to learn more.

SOURCE American Academy of Physician Assistants