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Obamacare and the Ever-Growing Need for PAs

 
Chances are last time you visited your health care provider you received care from a Physician Assistant (PA).  What does Obamacare mean for PAs, as well as those treated by PAs?
 
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is extending healthcare to more American citizens and therefore increasing the need for more healthcare providers.   This demand is not quickly met with the rigorous and time intensive requirements of obtaining an MD.  
 
Thankfully, training and deploying Physician Assistants is a promising option to meet the growing healthcare demands of MDs.  In 2012 $32 million was contributed to train more than 600 primary care Physician Assistants, and $50 million has been authorized to open ten primary care clinics managed by nurses.  This is a quickly growing field that will ultimately provide care to more underserved areas and at-risk populations.  
 
This is good news for health providers as well as people seeking treatment.  It enables surgeons to conduct more surgeries rather than being weighed down with exams and check ups.  It also lowers the price for those undergoing treatments as Physician Assistants are traditionally paid less than doctors. 
 
While some people may initially be wary of trusting their health to someone a step down from a fully trained doctor, Physician Assistants have actually received much of the same training as doctors.  They complete 4 to 7 years of postsecondary education in medicine, receive lab training, do clinical rotations, and some even complete residency programs.  They also function in similar ways as doctors as they are qualified to perform examinations and procedures, order treatments, diagnose diseases, prescribe medication, order and interpret diagnostic tests, refer patients to specialists, and assist in surgeries.
 
While the Affordable Care Act continues to be a debated topic between opposing parties, it may be providing some of us with a break in the job market. 
 
 
[Image by Tom Lohdan]
 
Sources: 1, 2
 
 




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