Medical Experts Say Physician Assistants Are Vital to America's Healthcare Team

Team-Based Medicine Showcased at AAPA Annual Conference in Boston

Jun 02, 2014, 06:00 ET from American Academy of Physician Assistants

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 2, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thousands of physician assistants (PAs) gathered in Boston last week for the American Academy of Physician Assistants annual conference, where their value to patients and the country's healthcare system was recognized by thought leaders in the medical world.

Harvard professor, surgeon and best-selling author Atul Gawande, MD, said that healthcare teams are vital to medicine's increasing complexity and the need to focus on patients. "The knowledge and skills required to take care of patients are beyond what any individual can hold in their head," Gawande said. "Team-based medicine is what we need. We've been cowboys, when what patients need are pit crews."

During the conference, a panel of PAs and physicians from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston emphasized the value of those "pit crews." The hospital staff relied on the skills of PAs and physicians to save the lives of Boston Marathon bombing victims in 2013.

"We're trained to be in the ER, in the OR and in the clinic," said Samantha Noonan, PA-C, who treated patients at Brigham and Women's the day of the bombings. "You need to be able to trust your training and recognize that this is why you're a PA. This is why you're out there and this is what you're meant to do."

The PA panel and Gawande were featured speakers at the conference, which drew an attendance of more than 7,000 PAs and PA students.

Today, more than 95,000 PAs across the country are practicing medicine in every medical setting and specialty. In fact, the profession is booming at a time when America is facing a shortage of physicians, particularly in primary care. More than 6,000 PAs graduate each year from accredited PA programs.

PAs are versatile medical providers who are educated at the graduate level through an intense medical program wherein they are trained to diagnose, treat and prescribe. As demand increases, so does our need for quality healthcare providers. With an imminent decline in the number of practicing physicians, as predicted by many workforce experts, it is clear that America needs PAs on its healthcare teams.

About the American Academy of Physician Assistants
Founded in 1968, the American Academy of Physician Assistants is the national professional society for PAs. It represents a profession of more than 95,000 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 PAs and to enhance their ability to improve the quality, accessibility and cost-effectiveness of patient-centered healthcare. Visit and to learn more.

SOURCE American Academy of Physician Assistants