Physician Assistants In Australia

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Although the physician assistant specialty has been recognised in several countries around the world for a few years now, it has only very recently gained recognition in Australia. December 14th 2014 saw the graduation of Australia’s first batch of physician assistants from James Cook University. The main reason behind establishing the PA specialty was to make healthcare more accessible to all Australians, particularly those living in remote and rural areas.

What Are Physician Assistants Qualified To Do?

The basic task of a PA is to supplement and extend the services traditionally provided by a doctor. These professionals provide primary healthcare services to patients under the direct supervision of a doctor and because they are trained as generalists, they are qualified to work in several different medical disciplines. Some of the job functions of a physician assistant include:

  • Performing patient examination
  • Ordering and interpreting tests and imaging
  • Diagnosing symptoms
  • Prescribing treatment
  • Formulating management plans
  • Follow up with patients
  • Assisting in surgery
  • Performing minor surgical procedures

Most of these jobs are carried out under the supervision of a licensed physician. The scope of a personal assistant’s role in different healthcare settings can vary significantly, depending on the PA’s rapport with the supervising doctor.  After a few years of working together, supervising doctors generally entrust the PA working with additional responsibilities.

After having some experience in the field, a personal assistant may choose to specialise in a particular area of medicine such as geriatrics or emergency care or they can undergo training to help doctors in advanced medical procedures and techniques.

The Pressing Need For Physician Assistants In Australia Today

Various statistical studies that have been done have shown that intakes into medical schools have almost doubled over the last decade. However, despite this, there has been no significant improvement in the access to care in small rural and remote communities. After exploring several other avenues, it was determined that the only way to address general practitioner shortages and provide easier healthcare access to underserved communities of Australia was to introduce new professions that helped fill in the gap. This is where physician assistants come in.

PAs are often the first line of medical care in Australia’s rural and remote areas, where they diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, prescribe medicines, provide medical and surgical care and recommend healthy lifestyle measures. When necessary, they refer patients to a medical doctor or make arrangements to get the patient transferred to a hospital or clinic.

Physician Assistants serve a special role in Australia where huge distances between health facilities in rural and remote areas combined with the severe shortage of doctors willing to work in these areas makes it extremely difficult for these communities to get easy access to proper health care. If you are looking for a medical career that offers excellent job prospects in Australia, this is definitely a specialty that is worth considering.

You can discover more about what the role entails by completing a pre-physician associate work placement with us.

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