Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Carry On, Doctor

It's early, it's dark, and it's cold. For the UK, anyway. My dear colonial readers can feel free to refrain from reminding me what real cold is like.

I've followed, with some interest a debate on the usefulness (or not) of the PA, or Physician's Assistant, over on some of my more erudite colleagues blogs. Check here, here or here.

As ever, it makes for interesting reading; and has fired up my little grey cells. Much has already been said on many UK blogs about extended role nursing practice, often not especially complementary...

I'm old nough to have seen the transition, and it does make me a little uncomfortable. Not because I'm not convinced that 'non-doctors' cannot do the job; they can, although I do occasionally have my concerns about the risks of such narrow fields of practice. But mostly because I increasingly see the 'extended role practitioner' doing the stuff on which I cut my teeth.

In 'farming' some of this work out, because wwe think it frees doctors up to do other (?more important) jobs, are we not mortgaging some of what makes us doctors?

I worry that we are.


anji said...

I guess... as a patient and having experienced something say, a yeast infection or a urinary tract infection or a sore throat needing to be looked at, and getting the ol' "you're-wasting-my-time" look from the doc, I'd rather go to a PA while my doc goes and tackles something else much more challenging. Or, at the very least... make my doc stop rolling his eyes when I haven't been able to swallow for two weeks and my glands are huge and I just want some antibiotics or some relief! :D

My husband is a medic with the canadian army and I'm encouraging him to go for his PA as soon as he is able to. He's too old (36) to start fresh and become a doctor but he's not too old to do the PA and still earn a living in his second career. We're so short of doctors here, anyone who can alleviate the pressure or at least, free up enough time so doctors can provide more care for serious things, would be nice. Something like, 10 million Canadians (out of 30 million in total) do not have a family physician. PAs would really make an impact, in an area like ours with such shortages!

DrShroom said...

I'm going to quote this in my next post, as I think it raises a few interesting points, and I'd like to counter-point. I hope you don't mind. If you do, let me know and I'll edit.



tracy said...

Dr SHroom,
i think i kind of understand what is being said. i have several "boring, minor" -probably-problems that have needed to be seen by my physican for months now (a v e r y wonderful, kind man), but i just don't want to bother him with such insignifigant things...he has enough to do. As well, last September, i had a large laceration on my arm that needed sutures and the young ED Doc who had to take time out (this was at night) from the "real" emergencies to deal with me was so pissed off that he was silent the entire time he worked on me...and did a pretty awful suture job as well. Just my luck. i would much rather have had a med student, eager for practice, work on me than that guy...too bad this was not a teaching hospital. i always feel like a hassle to physicans...therefore, i rarely seek them out, much as i may need-or want to...
thanks for listening