More and more, physician assistants are meeting patients’ needs in all types of medical practices. They serve as primary care providers for many folks. They also play valuable roles in specialists’ offices, including in orthopaedic practices. With their extensive training, PAs can do much of what doctors do. PAs provide many of the services and in-office treatments patients rely on, making independent decisions while working collaboratively with doctors. For a busy medical practice, adding PAs to the team can help meet demand in high-growth areas like Northern Virginia, so patients don’t have to wait for appointments.
What Is A Physician Assistant?
A PA is a medical provider who gets extensive medical training through an accredited three-year Physician Assistant program. They’re not doctors but fulfill many of the same roles as MDs. PAs can diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans and prescribe medications. While they can’t perform surgery, PAs can and do perform many non-surgical procedures.
According to the American Academy of PAs, physician assistants must have a bachelor’s degree and then complete a master’s degree level program to earn certification. PAs go through a rigorous 27-month program modeled on a medical school curriculum. Students take classroom courses in basic medical sciences, behavioral sciences, and behavioral ethics. They also complete 2,000 hours of clinical rotations, including family medicine, internal medicine, and other specialties. PAs must pass a certification exam to practice. You’ll usually see PA-C after a physician’s assistant’s name–just as you’d see MD after a doctor’s. The “C” means that they’re certified by the National Commission of Certification of PAs.
How Do PAs and Physicians Work Together?
In Virginia, PAs are required to practice under the supervision of a physician, but they’re qualified to make diagnoses and treatment plans independently. PA training stresses a collaborative, patient-centered approach to medicine. They spend time with patients and work cooperatively with the physicians in their office to provide excellent care. Adding PAs to a medical practice creates a team dynamic that’s a win for patients and providers alike, helping the office run smoothly and avoid long wait times for appointments.
What Roles Do Physician Assistants Play in Orthopaedics?
Nationwide, PAs are taking on a more significant role in nearly every medical specialty. In orthopaedics practices, PAs cannot perform surgery but can assist with surgeries. They’re highly qualified to take patient histories, complete exams, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe medications and therapies. They can also perform many non-surgical procedures, including:
- Fracture reductions (using the hands to place a fractured bone in the correct position)
- Fracture management
- Joint aspiration (removing synovial fluid from around the joint with a needle)
- Wound closures
- Debridements (removing damaged tissue from a wound)
- Casting and splinting
What Are The Advantages of Seeing A PA For Orthopaedic Needs?
Physician assistants play a valuable role in our evolving medical landscape. These skilled providers learn to practice with a patient-centered and team-based approach, working with doctors to see patients promptly and provide the best possible care. Here are some of the advantages of seeing a physician assistant:
- PAs provide excellent care and can do many of the same things as an MD.
- PAs are terrific at building patient relationships and quickly become trusted providers.
- PAs offer the option for patients to get appointments more quickly.
- PAs are collaborative and work with the doctors on their team to find the best treatment strategies.
Does My Orthopaedics Practice Offer PA Services?
Countryside Orthopaedics is thrilled to have three top-notch PAs on staff. Our highly skilled PAs provide a range of in-office procedures and work as a team with our physicians and therapists to offer the best patient care. Their presence on staff also means it’s easier to get an appointment at our busy practice. We’re proud that we’ve created a truly collaborative environment–with patients at the center of everything we do.