The physician assistant profession is a health care profession licensed by the state or the federal government which entails practicing medicine under physician supervision (Volpe, 2015). Physician assistants undertake a wide variety of medical services in clinical practice within almost all medical and also surgical specialties in the healthcare setting. However, this profession is dignified to expand to be an international profession since they offer a variety of services that are primarily offered by the physician which have rapidly increased (Volpe, 2015). This profession began in 1965 and so far it has been ranked by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as the fastest-growing profession since it began since physician assistant jobs have been noted to be significantly increasing every year (Volpe, 2015). This paper will, therefore, discuss the historical evolution of the physician assistant profession, the growth, and advancements that have taken place in this profession up to date.
The initial educational initiative for physician assistants started in 1965 as intent of responding to the shortage and uneven distribution of physicians (Volpe, 2015). Concurrently, a lot of corpsmen were retreating from the Vietnam War and they were specialized and trained in addressing trauma as well as surgical situations. The chairperson of Duke University, Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Eugene Stead developed a training program that took a period of two years so as to train physician assistants so that healthcare delivery issues were addressed in time (Colletti, Salisbury, Hertelendy, & Tseng, 2016). Another education program that he invented was the MEDEX which was a four-year program which was conducted in the University of Washington (Volpe, 2015). The basis of the education model was on his personal experience that he had which was about doctors’ fast-track training in the course of World War II as well as his own work that he developed a brand new undergraduate medical education program (Colletti et al., 2016). Towards the end of 1965, 4 ex-Navy corpsmen started their education at Duke University being taught by Dr. Stead (Colletti et al., 2016). However, the physician assistants who were at first perceived to physician substitute were trained to offer medical services to rural as well as other medically deprived areas under physician supervision.
During the 1970s, the government started to be apprehensive about the increasing health costs, which lead to initiating support and aid for the physician assistant profession (Colletti et al., 2016). In the instance in 1971 that the American Medical Association endorsed the physician assistants are the chief care providers, it was a big achievement of this profession (Colletti et al., 2016). Because physician assistants were substantially less expensive compared to physicians, the advancement resulted in the government raising federal funds for the physician assistant curriculums. Even though this profession has encountered a lot of changes since its initiation, all through the previous century, the profession has sustained its original focus on collaboration and ensuring excellent care is provided to patients, as well as expanding its geographical coverage, specialty and diversity.
Eugene Stead, Richard Smith, Hu Myers, and Henry Silver were the people who significantly influenced the physician assistant profession as they noted the disparity in health care provision and they took to implement a new educational model aimed at preparing health care professionals to provide better health care (Colletti et al., 2016). They saw the need that a physician requires help in order to deliver medical care in time and to ensure equal health care delivery to everybody including the populations in rural areas. They came up with a new healthcare practitioner movement entailing physician assistants and other new professions that focused to promote the inter-professional practice.
Training of physician assistant historically and currently is undertaken on the basis of medical model envisioned to supplement the physicians’ training and practice. The training takes up to two years and it is split into two sections; rotating preceptorships and coursework in key clinical fields (Colletti et al., 2016). These programs are offered in higher education levels that is colleges and universities. However, the latest trend is the physician assistant program being offered in masters-level programs. Currently, there are more than 130 authorized training institutions in the United States (Colletti et al., 2016). Since 1975 up to date, the NCCPA is in charge of certifying physical assistants via examination as well as continuous education necessities. Accreditation by the NCCPA permits physician assistants to utilize the professional title, “PA-C”. In order to obtain certification by the NCCPA, the individual must be a graduate from an accredited institution and must have passed in the examinations. The first certification expires after 6 years, and then needs to be renewed through the physician assistant has to pass the recertifying examination and provide evidence of a hundred hours of continuing medical training after every 2 years (Colletti et al., 2016).
To sum up, physician assistants have contributed a lot to inter-professional practice; as well with the thorough and efficacious education model have thrust the physician assistant profession forward. Currently, there are a lot of accredited physician assistant programs exist across the country. The physician assistant medical practice is acknowledged in all states in the United States and in other countries across the world and they are granted permission to prescribe medicine. Today, the physician assistant profession is acknowledged and greatly integrated into our medical system and still will continue to advance.