What is MS-PA
PAs are vital to healthcare. The Affordable Care Act, which was enacted in 2010, recognized PAs for the first time as one of three primary care providers (PAs, Nurse Practitioners and Physicians). The law also empowered PAs to lead patient-centered medical teams. Team-based care is at the core of a PA’s training. PAs can practice autonomously or in a collaborative relationship with other members of a patient’s healthcare team. This combination is a major source of their strength.
PAs are experts in general medicine. They undergo rigorous medical training. PAs must take a test in general medicine in order to be licensed and certified. They must graduate from an accredited PA program and pass a certification exam. Like physicians and NPs, PAs must complete extensive continuing medical education throughout their careers.
PAs diagnose, treat and prescribe medicine. Thanks to an education modeled on the medical school curriculum, PAs learn to make life saving diagnostic and therapeutic decisions while working autonomously or in collaboration with other members of the healthcare team. PAs are certified as medical generalists with a foundation in primary care. Over the course of their careers, many PAs practice in two or three specialty areas, giving them deep experience and the flexibility to meet the changing needs of their patients, employers and communities.
PAs are trusted healthcare providers. Studies have shown that when PAs practice to the full extent of their abilities and training, hospital readmission rates and lengths of stay decrease and infection rates go down. A Harris Poll found extremely high satisfaction rates among Americans who interact with PAs. The survey found that 93 percent regard PAs as trusted healthcare providers, 92 percent said that having a PA makes it easier to get a medical appointment and 91 percent believe that PAs improve the quality of healthcare.
PAs are in heavy demand. Three quarters of PAs receive multiple job offers upon passing their initial licensing and certification exams. Studies show that the most financially successful hospitals maximize their use of PAs. The PA profession has been named by several top media outlets, including Forbes and USA Today, as the most promising job in America. The demand for PAs increased more than 300 percent from 2011 to 2014, according to the healthcare search firm Merritt Hawkins. As of December 2016, there were more than 115,500 PAs nationwide who interact with patients upwards of 350 million times annually.
How are PAs educated and trained?
Most programs are approximately 26 months (three academic years) and require the same prerequisite courses as medical schools. Most programs also require students to have about three years of healthcare training and experience.
Students take courses in basic sciences, behavioral sciences and clinical medicine across subjects such as anatomy, pharmacology, microbiology, physiology and more.
They then complete a total of more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations in:
- Family medicine
- Internal medicine
- Obstetrics and gynecology
- General surgery
- Emergency medicine
Before they can practice, PAs who graduate from an accredited program must:
- Pass the PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certification of PAs
- Get licensed by the state they wish to practice their specialty
In order to maintain certification, PAs must:
- Complete a recertification exam every 10 years
- Complete 100 hours of continuing medical education (CME) every two years
The “PA-C” after a PA’s name means they are currently certified.
- National Commission on Certification of PAs (administers PANCE)
- State licensing requirements
- More information on maintaining certification
- Learning Central – more than 350 CME activities
The MS Team
PAs work in all specialties and settings.
They treat patients in:
- Medical offices
- Rural and urban community health centers
- Nursing homes
- Retail clinics
- Schools and university-based facilities
- Workplace clinics
- Correctional institutions
- The uniformed services and other federal government agencies
PAs in Neurology work in outpatient, academic, private, hospital based systems. They evaluate New MS patients and manage return MS patients, they make treatment decisions, order lab work and other testing your Neurologist would order. They provide a link to general wellness and preventative medicine as well as they are required to take a general board exam every 10 years. A PA specializing in MS may have a team working with them to care for their patient load such as a MS trained RN, LPN and an additional Medical Assistant in an outpatient setting. PAs work in a Team Based Approach to optimize the care an MS patient receives throughout their lifetime
Purpose and Goals
Purpose and Goals of the PA special interest group in MS include
- Bringing awareness of the contributions that PAs make in caring for patients living with MS and their families.
- Provide education and onboarding opportunities for PAs in MS care
- To establish a network for other MS specialized PAs to collaborate with other clinicians and providers to better care for patients living with MS and their families