What is a Physician Assistant?

by Cathy Verity, UGFHT Physician Assistant

July 7, 2020

Have you heard the term “Physician Assistant” but weren’t really sure what that means?  Read below to find out more about this exciting profession and the integral role they play in increasing access to healthcare for Canadians.

Physician Assistants (PAs) are university-educated professionals who work in a collaborative, team-based approach with physicians. These highly skilled healthcare providers are able to perform many of the same tasks as the physician including taking a medical history, performing physical exams and procedures, ordering and interpreting investigations, diagnosing illness, developing and managing treatment plans, prescribing medications, and counseling patients in preventative health.

While this profession is relatively new in Canadian public healthcare (PAs were first introduced in the Canadian Armed Forces more than 50 years ago), with the first class graduating in 2010, there are now over 650 PAs practicing in Canada. Research has shown that Physician Assistants improve patient-centred care and have a positive impact on Canada’s healthcare system by increasing access to care, decreasing wait times, and reducing health care costs. In addition, studies show that by integrating PAs into their practice, physicians are able to work more efficiently and can provide an increased level of service to patients.

Did you know that the Upper Grand Family Health Team has a Physician Assistant?  Cathy Verity completed her undergraduate studies in Biomedical Sciences and achieved a Masters in Neuroscience at the University of Guelph before training to become at Physician Assistant at McMaster University.  She has been working with the UGFHT since 2011 and supports the physician team at Geddes Medical Group as well as the Memory Clinic with the UGFHT.

Learn more about Physician Assistants at: https://capa-acam.ca/about-pas/

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