Physician assistants

Anyone come across physician assistants? There is one at our surgery who started four weeks ago. It is something new apparently. Found out today when I phoned to speak to a doctor and saw her later on for an appointment. Apparently it's something between a doctor and a nurse. Science degree and then two years training. I can see that it is valuable in freeing up doctor's for more complex stuff, but the Question I am asking myself, sceptic that I am, is this DC and his acolytes thinking up another way of saving money on the NHS budget?

8 Replies

  • I think in some areas they are called nurse practitioners. I know I saw one at one point, who picked up straight away on two occasions in the emergency GP clinic, (after school slot), that we did indeed need to see a GP. So.. in our case, it was just another layer to go through, but she seemed sussed. However I also saw one in a hospital setting and I was not at all impressed. Mary F x

  • It is all so confusing. I asked my local pharmacist if she had ever heard of them and she said no. Googled the term and looks like that they've been around in America for a while but only five unis in the UK do thevcourse.Not sure why you'd want to do the training over a five year period when you could do a medical degree in that time and get a higher salary. Definitely smacks of a cost cutting exercise to me.

  • we have nurse practitioners who you see with for coughs, uti's, asthma, bad throats cuts sprains etc and they are wonderful. we also have a doctors assistant who you see like a normal doctor, unfortunately my daughter ended up in hospital after not recognising that she had a kidney infection and on another occassion the same "doctor" did not recognise shingles either and these to me are still general illnesses. so in my opinion for serious health issues long term etc then see a fully qualified gp

  • Agreed! Mary F x

  • Even though this happens very seldom anymore.Last night I felt good for a couple of hours and my thinking was clear. I gave our son a hug and told him that I loved him... because of the about of times I have had to rewrite this I guess I am back to normal now, so I better go now.

  • We have two lovely nurse practitioners at our surgery they deal with the minor stuff and you can usually get an appointment the same day. I had a problem with my eye and saw one of them and becuase she wasn't sure she could one of the senior doctors in to have a look.

    So I'm happy to see them but tend to stick to the same GP for my long term conditions (saves having to repeat everything as shes pretty on the ball)

  • I actually had a PA look at my husband and dx him when the regular doctor didn't. Just like doctors and nurses, there are good ones amd not so good ones. BTW, I am in the states.

  • I agree, Saralee, there are good and poor physicians assistants, just as there are good and poor (and even dismal) docs. For basic evaluations and times when my doc is out of office, his pa is an excellent resource because she works closely with him and "knows his mind."

    I'm especially supportive of nurse practitioners because their training is more broad and they tend to like to take more time and delve more deeply into concerns.

    I think they both definitely have a place in modern medical pracitice, but need to be used appropriately.

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