We Asked: Are You Optimistic About Your Future as a Physician Assistant?

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We Asked: Are You Optimistic About Your Future as a Physician Assistant?
We Asked: Are You Optimistic About Your Future as a Physician Assistant?

Last week, we reported on The State of PAs and asked whether you feel optimistic about your future as a physician assistant. Opinions were divided, but nearly all respondents expressed at least some concern or frustration—much of it surrounding role confusion.

“Assistant must be changed to Associate as we play a vital role in healthcare and our role is misinterpreted daily,” wrote one PA. “I am still frequently asked by physicians and administrators what the difference is [between] PAs vs NPs and clinical nurse specialists,” lamented another. Others said they are concerned that NPs may put them out of business: “NPs are making more, they have more autonomy, and will push our profession out of the healthcare arena if something isn't done.”

Read on to see more comments on this subject from your colleagues.



Are you optimistic about your future as a physician assistant? Tell us why or why not.

◉ I am concerned. For 30 years, I have been a Psychiatry PA and have my own caseload, teach, and give community presentations on relevant topics in my field. The concern is that with so many professionals with prescriptive privileges, I am still frequently asked by physicians and administrators what the difference is between PAs vs NPs and clinical nurse specialists. We need more visibility as healthcare team members, and often those in power believe a PA is "an assistant" who only can do physical exams. So I ask, who will advocate for our group in such a way that administrators and physicians truly value all we have to offer? I have been fortunate to have advanced well in my field. I worry about future PAs.

◉ I am optimistic as a PA for the last 40 years. I have never had difficulty finding a job or getting a pay increase. I do primary care to include family practice and emergency medicine, worked for several years in cardiology, assisted a rheumatologist, but could not do oncology. Now just Walk In Clinic/Urgent care. I am almost 66 years old. I will continue to work for another 14 years until I am 80, if brain and body hold out. Why stop if you are still having FUN.

Now if only NCCPA stops its stuff and does away with PI and SA BS. I have no requirement for that until 2019. Daily practice, reading journals, and attending a conference are quite sufficient. If I do not stay current, I do not keep my job and I cannot serve my patients. That is what it is all about.

◉ Yes, definitely, but we must remain true to our origins as dependent practitioners! As well, we need to be first and foremost patient advocates! 30 years as a practicing PA—what a great choice and career.

◉ No, I am not optimistic about the PA profession. Nurse practitioners have lobbied and gained independent practice in 40 states now. It's impossible to compete with the NP numbers and scope of practice. NPs are making more, they have more autonomy, and will push our profession out of the healthcare arena if something isn't done. I believe our title needs to be changed to "physician associate," and we need to lobby for independent practice if we have a doctorate level degree to have a level playing field. I feel the effects of what is perceived as a subpar degree/ title, and it's made known in both salary and practice autonomy. It should be pushed to have a higher terminal degree that states physician associate, where one becomes an assistant with a master's degree and a physician associate with a doctorate. It would give greater direction, satisfaction to those of us that want it but are currently capped at a stifling level. We have no professional ladder to climb. This NEEDS to change and we need support and lobbying to create a profession on par.

◉ I work in a federal government job, and I see them leaning toward NPs because of being able to practice independently in multiple states and was denied consideration for a job in NC for that reason per HR for that facility. I think NPs have a distinct advantage presently.

◉ Am I "optimistic about my future as a PA"?

Resolutely, NO.

We have severely and forever limited our present and future potential by hobbling our vaunted profession with the inappropriate title, "assistant." Regardless that we have the same education, experience, and degrees as NPs ("Independent Practitioners"), we will forever be relegated to the role of "assistant". Just Google Physician Assistant and watch, with horror, as Medical Assistant is the most common response....

I always introduce myself as a "Physician Assistant Practitioner." I know, the humble beginnings of PAs were to "assist" and partner with the MD; but in this day and age, this has become an archaic and severe impediment to our profession.

All you need do is read the militant and bombastic remarks and articles in the NP magazines and you can see how far behind PAs have fallen in terms of respect and public opinion and recognition. We are losing ground on every front.

I have seen the future, and PA is not it.



Read more in This Week's Buzz for PAs.

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