PAs Now Eligible for Licensure in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico the Last Remaining U.S. Jurisdiction to Authorize PA Practice
January 30, 2019
An initial victory has come for PAs wishing to practice in Puerto Rico, which marks a milestone for the PA profession: New rules adopted by the Puerto Rico Department of Health will finally allow PAs to obtain a license to practice in Puerto Rico.
The effort to authorize PA practice in Puerto Rico has been a decades-long joint effort by AAPA, PAs for Puerto Rico and PAs for Latino Health. Over the years there have been countless visits and engagement with Puerto Rico’s congressional members, Puerto Rico’s governor and various legislative and agency leaders in Puerto Rico. There are many underlying factors specific to Puerto Rico’s healthcare system, in addition to general unfamiliarity with the PA profession, that previously hindered PA licensure.
The rules will allow graduates of ARC-PA accredited programs to become licensed as “medicos asistentes” and practice in all disciplines. The rules authorize medicos asistentes to write orders and progress notes, for patients in public and private hospitals, medical offices and other places where they are authorized to practice. However, Puerto Rico law does not permit PAs to prescribe medication.
“I’m immensely proud of the diligent work that went into opening this door for PAs to practice in Puerto Rico and the opportunity for PAs to help increase access to care for patients there. This is a great start. We will not rest until the people of Puerto Rico are able to be cared for by PAs utilizing their full education and experience,” said AAPA President and Chair of the Board Jonathan Sobel, DMSc, MBA, PA-C, DFAAPA, FAPACVS.
While far from ideal, the new regulations represent a significant step forward by authorizing PAs to be licensed by the Puerto Rico Medical Board. “This is just the first step in establishing the PA profession in Puerto Rico, and we’re committed to pursuing this until the law is right,” said Josue Droz, PA-C, President of PAs for Puerto Rico, who currently practices at the Department of Veterans Affairs in San Juan.
“I am pleased that this will allow PAs to familiarize and educate patients and the public about the PA profession and we’re hopeful that through continued advocacy efforts we’ll be able to modernize the laws consistent with optimal PA practice,” said Ron Garcia-Herrera, PA, president of PAs for Latino Health.
“I believe the Puerto Rican government finally understands the value of PAs, notwithstanding the unconventional manner the law is written,” said Maryann Ramos, PA, longtime advocate for PAs for Puerto Rico and a former professor at the Chatham University PA program in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
The rules become effective January 28, 2019 and implement Puerto Rico Law No. 71 of 2017 establishing the Medicos Asistentes profession.