National Physician Assistant Day is Saturday. The Oklahoma Academy of Physician Assistants would like to remind Oklahomans of our burgeoning profession. It's one of the fastest-growing career tracts in the nation. The demand for PAs is driven by shortages of doctors, a booming aging population and a shifting landscape for access to care. These factors have created the perfect storm for the PA profession.
More than 1,200 PAs provide care in Oklahoma, practicing in family medicine, neurosurgery, orthopedics, emergency medicine and more. PAs oversee 3.6 million patient visits annually in nearly all 77 counties. Oklahoma has some of the greatest challenges among all states with access to primary care. In underserved and rural communities, PAs are often the only medical provider for miles providing high quality medical care.
The Kaiser Foundation reports high patient satisfaction levels for PA services. PAs relate well to their patients, patients feel PAs listen and PAs understand complicated medical problems. This all adds together to instill confidence in patients with their mode of treatment.
We're always impressed with the quality of students who seek a career supporting a physician in his or her practice. They're intelligent, hardworking people who want to make a difference in the lives of others. They're professionals you can develop a relationship with, health care providers who not only cure your ills but share prevention and wellness advice that ultimately keeps people out of the emergency room and doctor's office.
Daniel L. O'Donoghue, Oklahoma City
O'Donoghue is president of the Oklahoma Academy of Physician Assistants.