Friday, 27 June 2008

More on 'medical care practitioners'

Following on from my last post moaning about 'medical care practitioners' or 'physician assistants' being introduced to the NHS, I found this fascinating information from the Birmingham PA course about the difference between a PA and a doctor:
"After their internship, PAs can work in general practice, hospital medicine or A&E. Although they will be required to show that they continue postgraduate studies as all clinicians do in terms of keeping up to date, , they are not required to undertake further formal training. PAs who wish to work in other fields (e.g. paediatrics; intensive care) will have to undertake further training. Whether or not they specialise PAs will be assessed periodically to ensure that they retain broad general competence.

The clinical role of the PA is very similar to that of the doctor. Experienced PAs in A&E or general practice may see the same undifferentiated range of patients that the doctor would see; can request the same investigations and initiate management of the patient in the same way. The differences are twofold. Firstly, currently, PAs are not allowed to prescribe. All prescriptions they write must be signed by a doctor. This is expected to change along with registration of the profession. Secondly, throughout their careers, PAs will work as part of a medical team, under the supervision of a doctor and (whatever their previous experience) they cannot work outside the field of competence of their supervisor. Their supervising doctor will have a deeper / more highly developed knowledge base and the PA is able to refer cases to their own supervisor as well as to other specialists."[my emphasis]

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