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Why Hire a PA? Staff Care's #PAWeek Guide to Recruiting Locum Physician Assistants

Why Hire a PA? Staff Care's #PAWeek Guide to Recruiting Locum Physician Assistants

October 6th through 12th is National PA Week, and to mark the occasion, we've rolled out a variety of resources and contests designed to help spread the word about the importance of physician assistants — and especially locum tenens physician assistants — to today's healthcare workforce.

"Before it was a week-long event, National PA Day was first celebrated on October 6, 1987, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the first graduating class of PAs from the Duke University PA program," explains the American Academy of PAs (AAPA). "October 6 is also the birthday of the profession’s founder, Eugene A. Stead, Jr., MD. For more on the profession’s history, visit the PA History Society."

"America’s more than 108,500 certified PAs are a powerful force for better health for millions of patients across the country. Consistently recognized as one of the best professions in America, PAs also represent one of the fastest-growing jobs in the nation. Because of PAs, the healthcare system is stronger. Because of PAs, more patients get access to high-quality, cost-effective care."

Of course, the need to hire a PA isn't restricted to one week in October. All year 'round, physician assistants are an increasingly critical component of an efficient, fully functioning clinical team. And in the face of the nation's ongoing physician shortage — well documented here at The Staff Care Insider — more and more healthcare employers are opting to utilize locum tenens PAs to help fill gaps in patient care. What's behind this trend — i.e., why hire a PA?

6 Reasons to Hire a Locum Tenens Physician Assistant

Reason #1: PAs are uniquely useful in a healthcare setting, and, like nurse practitioners (NPs), "can perform up to 80 percent of the services that physicians provide," state the authors of Staff Care's 2015 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends, which documents the rise in use of locum tenens PAs over the last few years. ("25% of healthcare facility managers said they used locum tenens NPs or PAs sometime in 2014, compared to 19.5% last year and only 9.5% the year before that," the authors write.)

Reason #2: PAs are versatile, providing care in a wide variety of practice settings. Where physician assistants were once focused mostly on primary care, they now encompass a diverse array of specialties. In its 2015 Statistical Profile of Certified Physician Assistants by Specialty, the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCPPA) breaks down current PA specialization as follows:Click Here to Access a Library of PA Week Resources from the AAPA

  • 28.3% work in primary care
  • 21% certified in family medicine/general practice
  • 18.6% certified in surgical subspecialties
  • 13.4% certified in emergency medicine
  • 11.2% certified in orthopaedic surgery
  • 5.3% certified in general internal medicine
  • 4% certified in dermatology
  • 3.4% certified in cardiothoracic/vascular surgery
  • 3.3% certified in hospital medicine
  • 3% certified in general surgery
  • 2.8% certified in cardiology
  • 2.2% certified in neurosurgery
  • 2% certified in general pediatrics
  • 1.6% certified in gastroenterology
  • 1.6% certified in occupational medicine
  • 1.5% certified in urology
  • 1.3% certified in ob/gyn
  • 1.3% certified in psychiatry
  • 1.1% certified in oncology
  • 1.1% certified in otolaryngology
  • 1% certified in physician medicine and rehabilitation
  • 8% certified in neurology

Reason #3: PAs "are educated in a collaborative approach to healthcare, which improves coordination of care and can improve outcomes," reports the AAPA in its guide to employing a PA.

Collaboration is key here: PAs are trained to supplement physician care, and to practice "within the scope of the supervising physician" in a spirit of "mutual trust and reliance."

Reason #4: Physician assistants are more readily available than physicians, "educated in intense educational programs," which means that "PAs can quickly begin practice, helping offset the worsening physician shortages," again per the AAPA.

Reason #5: Hiring a PA doesn't equate to loss of quality, as the AAPA explains: "Studies have consistently shown that PAs provide high-quality care with outcomes similar to physician-provided care;" other studies show that "incorporating PAs into office or hospital practice can improve outcomes."

Reason #6: "Patients are just as satisfied" with care provided by physician assistants as with care provided by doctors "and do not distinguish between types of care providers," the AAPA adds.

Guide to Hiring a PA

With these reasons in mind, let's take a look at some useful resources for hiring a PA and successfully integrating these important healthcare practitioners into your existing continuum of care:

  • Professional Advisory Services from the AAPA: "Insights, facts and resources to help employers integrate PAs into their hospital or health system."
  • The AAPA's Team Practice Resources: The AAPA offers this collection of tools and information "to enhance the potential" of the unique physician/PA team dynamic.
  • Benefits of Hiring a PA: This four-page issue brief from the AAPA explains how hiring a PA benefits "physicians, patients and practices."
  • Calculating PA Productivity: "This collection of information" from the AAPA "highlights the considerations and challenges associated with calculating PA productivity and financial contribution to the practice."
  • Staff Care's Locum Tenens PA Recruitment Services: Ready to hire a PA? We urge you to reach out to a Staff Care professional, who can guide you through the process and connect you with a qualified physician assistant in your location.

If you're interested in hiring a PA, we invite you to contact a Staff Care representative today. We'll be happy to discuss how hiring locum tenens physician assistants can supplement your staffing needs now and in the years to come.

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