A Physician Assistant or “PA” is a type of physician extender. He/she can see patients independently, but is always under the supervision of a medical doctor. In the mid 1960’s, it was realized that there were a shortage of primary care physicians in the United States. To help alleviate the shortage, a physician from Duke University, Dr Eugene Stead, put together the first class of physician assistants in 1965, and he based the curriculum on his prior experience of fast-track training doctors during the Second World War. Since the first class of PA’s graduated in 1967, there are currently more than 80,000 practicing PA’s in the United States.
In order to become a PA, one has to have a bachelor’s degree and then complete about three years of health care experience prior to attending PA School. Most PA programs are approximately 27 months long, and include both classroom work and clinical instruction. Most programs have PA students attend the same classes as medical students. Once a PA has finished schooling, he/she must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam to become certified.
At Children’s Orthopaedics of Atlanta, we have seven PA’s that assist our surgeons in patient care. They are an invaluable asset to provide expedited, yet reliable care for your children. All of our physician assistants specialize in the treatment of non-operative care of orthopaedic fractures and injuries, and they may occasionally see your child after surgery as well. They work side-by-side with their supervising surgeon on a weekly basis both for education and for quality of care.