October 6th marks the beginning of National PA Week 2018, an annual celebration of the physician assistant (PA) profession in the United States, and Staff Care is giving a shout-out to the tens of thousands of hard-working physician assistants (PAs) nationwide!
Why the mid-week kickoff? “Before it was a week-long event, National PA Day was first celebrated on October 6, 1987 from the Duke University PA program graduating class” explains the American Academy of PAs (AAPA), which also points out that October 6 is “the birthday of the profession’s founder, Eugene A. Stead, Jr., MD.”
During this important week, you can count Staff Care among those expressing respect and admiration for the nation's hard-working PAs. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the state of locum tenens physician assistants in 2018 to gain a greater insight into just how integral a component of the healthcare system these often unsung practitioners really are.
Locum Tenens Physician Assistants: More In-Demand than Ever
The AAPA reports that there are currently more than 108,500 certified PAs in the United States — up considerably from the 85,000 certified PAs reported to be active in 2014.
The increase in active PAs isn’t hard to understand, as demand for physician assistants continues to increase nationwide for a number of reasons. Today, PAs are more essential to the healthcare industry than ever. With the physician shortage escalating across the United States, hospitals and medical centers are increasingly turning to these versatile practitioners to help fill the gaps caused by lack of doctors.
As the nation’s leading locum tenens staffing provider, Staff Care is seeing this increasing demand firsthand. “Just three years ago, Staff Care received only a minimal number of requests for locum tenens NPs and PAs,” reports Staff Care's 2015 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends. “In 2014, they accounted for 12% of all temporary days requested."
The survey authors offer more insightful PA facts, also noting that:
- Physician assistants (and NPs) “can perform up to 80 percent of the services that physicians provide and, like physicians, they practice in a number of specialty areas.
- 25% of healthcare facility managers reported hiring locum PAs (or NPs), compared to 19.5% the year before and 9.5% the year before that.
- 15.6% of healthcare facility managers “said they will use NPs and PAs to cope with changes” brought upon by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
About one-third of PAs in the U.S. practice primary care, “while the rest are spread over a variety of specialty areas,” the Staff Care survey authors also note, making them more versatile than NPs, 85% of whom specialize in primary care.
And according to a recent report by Forbes’ Bruce Japsen, that versatility is only increasing as PAs continue to fill in the gaps created by the nation’s physician shortage.
“A key reason for the growth in specialties such as surgery and emergency medicine is that’s where there’s a real need, often due to physician shortages in those areas,” Chief Executive of National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) Dawn Morton-Rias told Japsen.
It’s for this reason that many are calling for expanded scope of PA practice. “It’s time PAs were also recognized by state legislators for their education, clinical training, and dedication to quality patient outcomes,” writes Brian Sady, PA-C, MMSc for Clinician Reviews.
“PAs, like our NP counterparts, have 50 years of patient outcomes data and studies that prove we are effective and safe providers,” Sady adds. “Organizations such as the VA, the FTC, and other citizen advocacy groups support PAs. These organizations have supported NP independence and will support the push for PA practice autonomy as well.”
That’s already happening, as Japsen notes. “Earlier this year, for example, New Jersey joined nearly 30 other states” to get rid of physician countersignature requirement and allow PAs “more direct access to patients.”
And as these restrictions against PAs’ scope of practice continue to crumble, it’s a great bet that locum tenens physician assistants will be even more utilized in the years to come.
Celebrate PA Week with a New Locum Tenens Physician Assistant Job
“Consistently recognized as one of the best professions in America, PAs also represent one of the fastest-growing jobs in the nation,” the AAPA reports. “Because of PAs, the healthcare system is stronger. Because of PAs, more patients get access to high-quality, cost-effective care.
“Celebrating half a century of care. Even though the PA profession doesn’t turn 50 until next year, you can start honoring 50 years of PAs now! Share your excitement during #PAweek with free posters and social images commemorating the profession’s upcoming anniversary.”
So this week, be sure to thank the physician assistants you work with. We also encourage you to share this article with your social networks, and tag it with #PAweek. You can also visit the AAPA’s National PA Week website for more ideas on how to support National PA Week 2018, including a selection of banners and graphics designed to help get the word out about these unsung medical practitioners.
Are you a PA seeking great locum tenens job opportunities? We invite you to search locum PA jobs across the U.S. here, or contact us here to speak with a friendly, industry-savvy Staff Care locums recruiter today.
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