Have you ever wondered whether you should see a physician associate in urgent care or a doctor? According to Consumer Reports, there have been a steady rise in physician associates in urgent care facilities since 2018. The number of PAs in urgent care has nearly doubled over the last decade. Here are the most asked questions on physician associates in urgent care.
Who is a physician associate?
A physician associate (formerly known as a physician assistant) is a new type of healthcare worker who is a qualified medical professional. Becoming a PA is not easy, and the qualifications vary from state to state. Physician Associate programs typically take between 24 and 27 months to complete, this is a combination of classroom work and clinical rotations. This comes after completing a four-year degree. Once graduated from an accredited PA program, they are eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). From there they must obtain a state license to practice. To maintain their certificate, they need to complete 100 hours of continuing medical education credits every two years and take a recertification exam every 10 years. PAs work under the direct supervision of a doctor. In an urgent care setting, they play a critical role in diagnosis and treatment.
What is expected of physician associates in Urgent Care?
Urgent care medicine is a fast-growing specialty for both physician associates and physicians. Several conditions require acute treatment but are not severe enough to be considered emergency room cases. In some cases, a patient might not have a primary care doctor and requires medical care. The number of PAs in urgent care has nearly doubled over the last decade. A physician associate in urgent care gets to see more patients and perform more surgical procedures (minor) than their counterparts working in emergency medicine.
Some of the duties that physician associates in urgent care perform include:
- Diagnose and treat patients
- Carry out physical examinations
- Perform medication procedures in the office
- Attend to patients who have long-term chronic conditions
- Prescribe medications (in some states within the United States)
- Order medical tests and interpret their results
- Develop a treatment plan based on test and examination results.
What skills must physician assistants in urgent care have?
A physician assistant in urgent care must possess excellent assessment skills. They should recognize various conditions – especially the more serious ones, and direct the patient to the correct department for advanced care. PAs in an Urgent Care setting is rarely new graduates.
What are the benefits for a patient receiving treatment from a physician associate in urgent care?
PAs are dependent practitioners who work under the supervision of a medical doctor. When a patient receives treatment from a physician associate, they benefit from two people weighing in on their care. Patients feel more confident that they have two medical professionals – a PA and an MD who review and approve the plan for treatment.
To become a physician associate in urgent care requires specific skills, traits, leadership qualities, excellent interpersonal skills, and caring nature.
CME4Life provides a wide variety of high-end CME programs. The courses are AAPA approved and created by a clinician for clinicians. CME4Life was developed by John Bielinski, Jr. PA-C, who holds a master of science in emergency and family medicine. Courses include emergency medication, urgent care, acute care, hospital medicine, critical care emergency medicine, professional practice for physician assistants, and more!