Friday 9 December 2016

Time to consider doctor assistants

Published 07/01/2011 | 05:00

I would like to make a suggestion regarding Eilish O'Regan's article on the shortfall of 165 junior doctors to fill healthcare positions (Irish Independent, January 5). When former US President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965, suddenly American physicians were inundated with patients seeking medical care.

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At Duke University, Dr Eugene Stead knew there was a growing pool of young men who had been trained as medics by the navy and army and had intense medical experiences while serving in Vietnam. He developed the first Physician Assistant (PA) programme to tap their experience and bring them into the provider ranks. I have been a practising PA for 30 years.

All PAs are licensed to a supervising physician. We do not practise medicine as indep-endent providers. We can perform about 85pc of the duties of the average physician.

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