Physician assistants (PAs) are catching the eye of health care in Canada as a resource to fill the potential gaps in healthcare. So far they have been found to reduce the overloads in hospital emergency departments as well as in long-term care settings, according to a report released by the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA). The organization’s National Report Card highlights the progress in some provinces versus others in integrating PAs into the health care system.

Despite evidence from across North America demonstrating the value of PAs in helping to reduce wait times and improve health care, several provinces have been slow to move forward.

“We are very excited about our demonstrable success in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick, where PAs are working in emergency rooms, hospitals and long-term care homes, under the supervision of physicians to help improve access to care and wait times,” said Mark McLennan, Acting National President, CAPA. “This success, combined with overwhelming public support for PAs in every jurisdiction of the country, means we should be pushing forward to add PAs to the health care team right across Canada.”

A recent poll by Nanos Research indicates a large majority of Canadians support a greater role for PAs, and that 75% of those who received care from a PA were satisfied with the level of care that was provided.

The CAPA reports that PAs can work in a variety of specialties and have yielded significant results in primary care, emergency medicine, and orthopaedic settings.

CAPA took the opportunity of National PA Day to issue a national report card rating the different regions across the county on how they are progressing in terms of incorporating PAs. Manitoba and New Brunswick receive top score for their implementation. Alberta and Ontario are a close second and are leading the way for the rest of the country in terms of utilization of PAs in their health care systems. CAPA is challenging other provinces and territories to move forward with this important health profession and start integrating PAs into their clinics, hospitals, and tertiary care centers to start improving access to care for Canadians.

While a relatively new profession in Canada, PAs have been practicing in the Canadian Armed Forces for more 50 years and reportedly have been instrumental in providing a high level of care to soldiers on the front lines.

[Source: Canadian Association of Physician Assistants]