By Michele Kassmeier, MPH, PA-C, orthopedic physician assistant

  • physician assistant adult patient

Did you know that October 6-12, 2023 is National Physician Assistant Week?

To all physician assistants within District Medical Group and across the nation, “Happy Physician Assistant Week! We appreciate you.”

For those who may be asking, “What is a physician assistant, ” here’s the answer. The first physician assistant (PA) class was formed in 1965, and this year, the 200,000th PA was certified. A relatively new profession, PAs are graduate level professionals working as a part of the healthcare team. They care for patients in hospitals, urgent cares, emergency departments, and outpatient clinics, as well as across a broad range of medical specialties such as family medicine, internal medicine, surgery, and other specialties.

Taking pride in creating meaningful relationships with patients to provide comprehensive care, PAs diagnose and treat a variety of conditions, diseases, and illnesses in people of all ages. They can prescribe medications, and order and interpret a variety of labs and imaging studies.

PAs work alongside physicians, surgeons, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare professionals.

With the shortage of healthcare professionals, PAs will continue to be an essential component in providing access to care.

The Arizona State Association of Physician Assistants (ASAPA) has been diligently working to help advance this career path, being the fourth state in the country to “modernize laws around team-based healthcare to accurately reflect the way PAs practice today.”

As with other professionals, PAs go beyond to serve patients and people. To learn more about PAs, visit American Academy of Physician Assistants.