AAPA survey shows physician assistants increasingly employed in medical practices

Alexandria, VA, October 14, 2003 The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) today announced that their annual census of physician assistants (PAs) shows the profession continues to become a more widely recognized patient care provider as busy doctors increasingly employ PAs in solo and group medical practices.

Physician assistants are licensed health professionals who practice medicine as members of a team working with supervising physicians. PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services to diverse populations in rural and urban settings. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and prescribe medications.

The 2003 AAPA Census Report found that 36.5 percent of respondents reported that a hospital was their primary work setting (a slight decrease from last year's response of 37.9%). Just over 30 percent of physician assistants reported working in a physician group practice setting, and 12.9 percent in the office of a solo practice physician -- representing a cumulative increase in the percentage of PAs working in a physician's office (42.3% in 2003, compared to 40.3% in 2002).

The latest findings demonstrate a continuing trend of increasing numbers of PAs working in physician offices. In 1998, 26.3 percent of physician assistants reported working in a physician group practice, and 9.1 percent in a solo practice physician office.

"We know that physicians are increasingly turning to PAs to assist in their practice, and that the practice of medicine is changing in America. This is particularly true as we watch the evolution of managed care and our focus shifts to community-based and outpatient care," explains Steve Crane, executive vice president and CEO of AAPA.

"The AAPA census is a significant piece of annual research that reveals key trends and demonstrates t

Contact: Stephen Bingham and Erin Gifford
American Academy of Physician Assistants

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