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Physician assistants can help health system

Re: “Co-op health clinic struggles with bills amid MD shortage,” March 26. Health-care resources are costly and often fall short of increasing demands. An option to this quandary is to increase the value of the system.

Re: “Co-op health clinic struggles with bills amid MD shortage,” March 26.

 

Health-care resources are costly and often fall short of increasing demands. An option to this quandary is to increase the value of the system. Currently, human resources are not adding value and continue to aggravate issues such as access and rigidity adapting to at-risk populations.

Recently, the Conference Board of Canada published a few independent studies looking at what physician assistants can bring to our health-care systems. PAs have a long history in our military and in the U.S. They are employed publicly in Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Alberta.

PAs act as physician extenders, with a mirrored scope of practice to the supervising physician. They can work in any specialty and can work from a distance, depending on the PA-physician supervising relationship. The Canadian military has been doing this for many years with success.

Highlights of the studies include evidence that PAs increase value by:

• improving discharge rates,

• decreasing length of hospital stays,

• increasing health-care productivity,

• reducing resident and physician workload/strain.

B.C. has fruitlessly attempted in the past to implement PAs. It might be time to revisit the idea and take advantage of their value.

I can say with certainty that there would be trained and experienced physician assistants who would jump at the chance to work in places such as the James Bay co-op clinic and B.C. in general. I am one.

 

Eric Demers

Victoria

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