Osteopathic Physicians, PAs Emphasize Team-Based Approach to Healthcare Healthcare

Aug. 1, 2013

The American Academy of Physician Assistants and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) today released a joint paper that supports the need for physician-led, team-based care, while defining the critical roles physician assistants (PAs) and physicians play in improving access to high-quality patient care.

The paper, “Osteopathic Physicians and Physician Assistants: Excellence in Team-Based Medicine”, asserts that physician-PA teams are ideally suited to provide comprehensive, patient-centered, coordinated, accessible and ongoing care. AOA and AAPA also emphasize that each medical practice be able to determine appropriate clinical roles within the medical team, physician-to-PA ratios and oversight processes to best meet the needs of that practice and its patients.

Osteopathic physicians (DOs) and PAs share a history of practicing medicine grounded in primary care. The two professions also share concerns about the predicted shortage of physicians in many specialty areas. The organizations support interprofessional education of physicians-in-training and PA students, encourage ongoing innovations in interdisciplinary education and support opportunities for DOs to precept PA students and participate as faculty at PA programs.

“The AOA has long supported the patient-centered medical home model of healthcare that entails every member of the medical team making appropriate use of their training to help ensure that patients receive the highest quality of care,” said Norman E. Vinn, DO, president of the AOA. “With the expansion of the Affordable Care Act, there is greater concern about a gap in primary care coverage, but with physicians and PAs working together providing team-based care, we can move closer to bridging this gap.”

“There is no doubt that when PAs and physicians join forces, access to care increases,” said Lawrence Herman, MPA, PA-C, DFAAPA and AAPA president. “The notion of team-based care is fundamental to the PA profession, and we believe that the synergy created by osteopathic physicians and PAs practicing together far surpasses what each could accomplish alone.”

DOs are fully licensed physicians trained to diagnose and treat patients, prescribe medication and perform surgery in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. After completing four years of osteopathic medical school followed by three to eight years of graduate medical education, DOs can practice in all types of settings and medical specialties, from family and internal medicine to medical and surgical subspecialties.

PAs provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services as part of the physician-directed team. They perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries, order and interpret lab tests, prescribe medication, provide preventive care, manage patients with chronic conditions, perform procedures, assist in surgery, provide patient education and counseling and make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes.

Patrick Dunne, AAPA, 571-319-4394, [email protected]

Nicole Grady, AOA, 312-202-8038, [email protected]

About the American Osteopathic Association
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) proudly represents its professional family of more than 104,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students; promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools; and has federal authority to accredit hospitals and other healthcare facilities. More information on DOs/osteopathic medicine can be found at AOA’s website, osteopathic.org.

About the American Academy of Physician Assistants
Founded in 1968, the American Academy of Physician Assistants is the national professional society for physician assistants. It represents a profession of more than 90,000 certified PAs across all medical and surgical specialties in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the majority of the U.S. territories and within the uniformed services. AAPA advocates and educates on behalf of the profession and the patients PAs serve. It works to ensure the professional growth, personal excellence and recognition of physician assistants and to enhance their ability to improve the quality, accessibility and cost-effectiveness of patient-centered healthcare. Visit aapa.org to learn more about the profession.

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