October 6-12 is National PA Week. This week recognizes the PA profession, the history of the profession, and mostly its contribution to the healthcare system. The first class of PAs graduated from Duke University’s PA Program on October 6th, 1967. Eugene A. Stead Jr, M.D. was the founder of the PA profession and creator of this first PA program at Duke. . The first class was made of four Navy Hospital Corpsmen who had received considerable medical training during their military service. Stead saw there was a shortage of physicians at the time and based the PA curriculum on the “fast-tracked” training of the physicians who served during World War II. The profession of the PA gained federal acceptance in the early 1970s as a solution to physician shortage. Over the past 50 years, the medical community has supported the profession as it has continued to grow.
To practice medicine as a PA, a master’s degree from a nationally accredited program is required. Once completing a master’s degree, PAs are required to take a National Board exam called the PANCE (PA National Certification Exam). This exam must also be re-taken every 10 years for recertification.
During their education PAs complete a first year titled a “didactic year”. Consisting of a heavy course load of lectures and exams. Once entering into the second year of their program they begin their clinical rotations. PAs rotate in all fields of specialties including the core fields of family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, general surgery, emergency medicine, and psychiatry. Many programs often offer elective rotations where students can rotate in more specialized fields such as cardiology, dermatology and last but not least, orthopedics
PAs are to serve as a core part of the healthcare team with a goal to improve healthcare access and quality. In the state of Ohio, PAs are medical professionals who can diagnose conditions, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and order advanced testing. PAs are able to practice in an emergency, urgent care, clinic, or surgical setting. PAs are able to order advance tests such as MRIs, CTs, and EMGs as well as prescribe narcotics and perform small procedures. They are able to practice all these aspects of medicine because they work with one, or a number of, supervising physicians to provide a collaborative assessment and plan of care for patients.
If you haven’t been treated by a PA before, there’s a good chance you will in the near future. There are more than 131,000 PAs working across the country, and are over 15 employed here at OrthoNeuro!
The PAs here at OrthoNeuro are committed to improving access to quality care and act as a vital part of the healthcare team. We hope to continue to improve the overall healthcare experience here at OrthoNeuro, not only for our patients but for our colleagues and co-workers as well! Happy National PA week OrthoNeuro!
Megan Holley PA-C, MSPAS
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