WASHINGTON, May 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius emphasized the essential value of PAs while speaking before a general session at the American Academy of Physician Assistants' (AAPA) 41st Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. In her remarks, Secretary Sebelius noted that all healthcare providers, including PAs, will play a critical role in meeting the needs of millions of new patients, especially those living in underserved communities.
"In medically underserved communities, and particularly in rural areas, PAs are an incredible lifeline to patients who might not have regular access to other healthcare providers. So it's vital to do everything we can to bolster the work done by PAs," Sebelius said.
PAs already care for more than 300 million patients in nearly every medical setting, and the demand is expected to increase substantially under the Affordable Care Act. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 30 percent increase in PA jobs over the next decade. There is currently a higher demand for spots in PA programs than there are places available, and more than 60 new PA programs are currently awaiting accreditation. With the significant increase in PA programs, it is projected that more than 10,000 PAs will enter the workforce per year by 2020, helping to offset the growing shortage of physicians.
"With more than 90, 000 certified PAs and over 6,000 newly graduated PAs joining their ranks this past year, the field comprises one of the fastest growing healthcare professions in the U.S.," said AAPA President James E. Delaney, PA-C.
The PA profession is tapping a variety of highly skilled resources to build its workforce, including military veterans. The U.S. Department of the Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration has earmarked $2.5 million to 13 of the nation's PA programs to make it easier for veterans to leverage their military training to become PAs.
PAs were named as one of three primary healthcare providers in the Affordable Care Act. They are nationally certified and state-licensed to practice medicine as part of a physician-led team. PAs perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret lab tests, 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.
Also as part of its conference, AAPA is recognizing PAs who are leaders in their field, raising the bar on patient care and improving access to healthcare for millions worldwide. AAPA's PAragon Award honorees include: PA Service to Underserved Award Winner Sixtus Atabong, PA-C, of Lubbock, Texas; Outstanding PA of the Year Award Winner Jeffrey Callard, PA-C, of Ann Arbor, Mich.; Humanitarian PA of the Year Award Winner Earle Canfield, PA, of Grand Rapids, Mich; Preceptor of the Year Award Winner Joseph Cohen, PA-C of Apex, N.C.; Federal Service of the Year Award Winner Earl Morse, PA-C, of Springfield, Ohio.; Eugene A. Stead Jr. Award of Achievement Winner (posthumously) Ron Nelson, PA-C; and President's Award Winner John Trimbath, PA-C, of Cleveland, Ohio. In addition, Marcia Bouton, PA-C, Christopher Castellano, PA-C and Denise Rizzolo, PA-C, are being honored with awards for publishing.
Visit www.youtube.com/aapavideo to learn more and see videos about the 2013 PAragon Award winners.
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 90,000 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.
SOURCE American Academy of Physician Assistants