Fostering A Team-Based Health Care Approach
PAs helped to fill the gaps for continued access to care for Americans, while also allowing physicians more freedom to take time out of their clinics for continued medical education and much needed personal time off. The incorporation of PAs into medical practice also provided an opportunity for clinicians to establish unique niches within their own clinic to provide more comprehensive medical care to their patients.
Today, more than 100,000 PAs are in practice in the United States, across all medical specialties.3 PAs continue to play a vital role in access to care. It is estimated that by 2020 there will be a shortage of 90,000 physicians in the United States.4
PAs practice medicine in a wide variety of ways from first assisting in the operating room to endotracheal intubation in the emergency room. PAs are involved in many levels of care throughout the health care system.
PAs in Dermatology
PAs also play a unique role in dermatology, providing a wide array of medical, surgical, and cosmetic services dependent on the needs of their practice and collaborating physicians.
A recent analysis of dermatologist and dermatology PA density demonstrates the positive impact PAs have on access to dermatologic care across the country, especially in nonurban locations where dermatologists are less likely establish their practice.3 There are more than 3000 members of the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SPDA) and this number continues to grow.5
We continue to advocate for team practice with our dermatologist colleagues. The knowledge and skills we gain from working alongside our collaborating physicians is essential to our continued growth and ability to provide the best care for our patients. We remain committed to the value of the dermatologist-PA team in providing more timely access to care for patients and lifelong learning as a part of a health care team dedicated to dermatology.
Ms Mast is the current president of the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants. She has been a dermatology PA for 16 years. She practices in Merritt Island, FL.
1. History of the PA profession. The American Academy of Physician Assistants website. https://www.aapa.org/about/history/. Accessed November 19, 2017.
2. 1957 to 1960. The formative years. Physician Assistant History Society website. https://pahx.org/period02/. Accessed November 19, 2017.
3. Glazer AM, Holyoak K, Cheever E, Rigel DS. Analysis of US dermatology physician assistant density. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017;76(6):1200-1202.
4. Physician shortages to worsen without increases in resident training. Association of Medical Colleges. https://www.aamc.org/download/150584/data/physician_shortages_factsheet.pdf. Accessed November 19, 2017.
5. Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants website. http://www.dermpa.org. Accessed November 19, 2017.