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Karyn Aldridge MHA CMPE
Medical Practice Executive
Wow this is such a good question Chrisitan! It's also really difficult to answer because there are so many factors influencing the practice of physician assistants. First the scope of practice for physician assistants is defined at the State level so what they can and can not do depends on their state licensing board. Second the physician assistant association is pretty strong, The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) advocates to advance the profession at the federal, state, and local levels. I have attached the url to their website if you are interested. It is my feeling after working in the field for > 25 years that the scope of practice for the physician assistant in the primary care arena will expand. I am including General Internal Medicine with Primary Care and believe the scope of practice for the PA-C will expand because I anticipate a shortage of physicians in medicine as the national push continues to require the primary care physician to manage the whole patient. I do not believe the physician assistant working in a surgical specialty should expect any expansion in their scope of practice.
Surgical specialties will continue to use physician assistants as surgical assistants, to cover after hour duties, and if they run a good practice they will also allow the PA to manage their patients pre/post operatively. I hope this helps, good luck!
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Environmental Scientist at Philadelphia Water Department
PAs do a wide range of tasks, even though they are not doctors. You should check the laws in your state, because different states have different regulations about the role of PAs in their state. I think the need for PAs will increase in the future, especially in some rural and poorer communities that have trouble attracting doctors. It's a good career and friends who have worked as PAs for many years highly recommend it as a career.