A Guide for Hiring a PA
Physician Assistants (PAs) are health care professionals licensed in the state of Michigan to practice medicine in collaboration with a supervising physician. The physician-PA team model allows for flexibility and enhanced delivery of quality health care. PAs complement the physician-led delivery of comprehensive medical therapies and services, allowing treatment of a diverse population of patients and medical conditions. PAs provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services and address patient needs from the primary care level through surgical assisting and procedures.
Physician Assistants have proven that they are able to coordinate patient care, provide high quality health care and enhance patient satisfaction, all the while, increasing the efficiency of physicians and their practices. The physician-PA team excels in an atmosphere of mutual respect and autonomy.
Alleviating Questions About PAs:
How are PAs trained and what can PAs do?
PAs are educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training. The PA profession requires at least two years of post-graduate education and students typically have a background in health care experience prior to admission to a PA program. A PA student has a rigorous didactic first year of school followed by a second year of clinical rotations.
- Obtain medical histories and conduct physical exams
- Diagnosis and treat illnesses
- Order and interpret tests/studies
- Counsel on preventative health care
- Assist on all surgical procedures
- Develop treatment plans
- Write prescriptions
The Flexibility of PAs and the training they received, allows them to function autonomously:
- PAs are educated as generalists and recertify as such
- PAs collaborate with physicians and other healthcare professionals to deliver team-based quality health care
- PAs manage patients, provide treatment plans and preventive health care
- PAs increase access to health care and yield positive patient outcomes
- PAs are usually the first and last health care professional a patient sees and receives health care from
During training, PA students are designated PA-S; the use of PA-C is limited to those PAs who are certified and in compliance with the regulations of the NCCPA. A PA program graduate must pass the certifying examination- PANCE, offered by the NCCPA; which is required for licensure in all states. Once licensed, a PA may practice in any medical setting- from primary care medicine to surgical subspecialties and first assisting at surgery.
How will a PA benefit my Practice?
Because of their broad range of training and flexibility, PAs are able to work in any facet of medicine and take care of patients’ from the simplest patient concern to extremely complex medical conditions that a patient may present with. A physician assistant is licensed and can obtain a DEA registration, allowing them to practice medicine and care for these patients that is befitting of the physicians’ preference. The collaboration of physician and PA helps to:
- Increase patients’ access to quality health care
- Enhance patient satisfaction for services provided
- Improve patient flow and practice efficiency
- Increase revenue for the practice
- Decrease patient wait times, improving patient satisfaction and retention
- Allow more flexibility in the schedule of their employers
Physician Assistants are only limited in their duties by the delegation agreement with their supervising physician and their scope of practice. For hospitals and institutions, PAs are only limited in their duties by the delegation agreement with their supervising physician and their scope of practice. The scope of practice guidelines are developed by the PA and their supervising physician, specific to their practice setting. In Michigan, physicians are permitted to delegate their prescriptive authority to PAs and if a PA has a DEA registration number, they can write prescriptions for controlled substances.
How do I Hire a PA?
The physician assistant profession is unique in the flexibility that a PA provides in the delivery of quality health care. PAs can ease the burden from physicians, increase revenue for a practice and most importantly, increase a patient’s access to health care and their satisfaction.
Understanding what your practice needs and knowing that a physician assistant will help fill that need is the first step. You will need to create a job position and description that reflects your practice needs, with the involvement of the physician(s) who will be working with the PA. Next, you will need to determine if you seek a new PA graduate or one with experience. Will this PA be working only in a clinic/office-type setting and/or will they need credentials to round at a hospital or assist in surgery? Will the PA see new patients, follow-up visits, take call or perform procedures that are within the scope of practice of the supervising physician? The office staff will need to understand the role that the PA will be performing and understand the differences in billing for PA services for all insurance types. The PA will need to obtain an NPI number from CMS for billing services for Medicare patients; some private insurers will reimburse under the physician’s billing number for services provided by the PA. For more information, please see the Reimbursement page.
Compensation and Benefits Package
The compensation for a physician assistant can vary from practice to practice, from area of medicine to surgery and from geography and experience. The Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants (MAPA) has a ‘Salary Report’ that is member only access, but can be used by a MAPA member to negotiate a salary with an employer. The PA profession has experienced an increase in need for PAs due to physician shortage and curbing of resident hours. This has led to a higher demand for PAs and subsequently, an increase in compensation for their services. The benefits package is the other half of compensation equation that will help attract a PA to your practice. Benefits offered can include:
- Continuing Medical Education funds and days
- Reimbursement for licenses, fees and professional dues
- Paid vacation and sick leave
- Professional Liability and Disability Insurances
- Individual and Family Health, Dental and Vision Insurances
- Pension or Retirement funding
- Reimbursement for additional training (certification, BLS, ACLS, etc.)
Finding the ‘Right PA’ for your practice
There are several avenues to explore to find a physician assistant that would fit best for your practice or institution.
MAPA has a ‘Job Central’ where you can post an open position for a PA and review submitted resumes. Click here to access Job Central.
The national PA academy (AAPA) also has a link for employers called ‘PA Job Link’ where you can search submitted resumes and post a job. Link: www.aapa.org/for-employers
A practice or institution may also contact state PA programs to ask for interested graduating PA students; clinical rotation preceptors and word-of-mouth are additional sources to investigate.
The PA profession was founded on a collaborative initiative and the flexibility of the profession allows for a best fit scenario for the evolving landscape that healthcare is today. The PA profession is committed to the team practice of medicine and the efficient delivery of quality health care. The most effective clinical teams are those that utilize the skills and abilities of each team member most efficiently. The team of physicians and PAs extend healthcare delivery for better outcomes in patient care and overall improved patient satisfaction.