206 million patient visits will have been made to physician assistants (PAs) in 2004

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Approximately 206 million patient visits will have been made to physician assistants (PAs) in 2004, according to the newly released report by the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).

The Information Update: Number of Patient Visits Made to Physician Assistants and Number of Medications Prescribed or Recommended by Physician Assistants in 2004 also estimates that PAs will have prescribed or recommended approximately 250 million medications during the year.

Physician assistants are licensed health professionals who practice medicine as members of a team with their supervising physicians. PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services to diverse populations in rural and urban settings. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and prescribe medications.

AAPA estimates there will be approximately 55,061 people in clinical practice as physician assistants at the beginning of 2005, compared to 37,821 at the beginning of 2000. New York and California are projected to have the largest number of practicing PAs, and Mississippi and Arkansas are projected to have the smallest numbers.

“We continue to see growth in both the number of individuals choosing to enter the PA profession, as well as the number of patients choosing to be seen by PAs,” said Stephen Crane, executive vice president and CEO of AAPA. “PAs and their supervising physicians will play an invaluable role in addressing the anticipated shortage of physicians over the coming decade.”

The PA profession is the third fastest-growing profession according the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS predicts that the number of physician assistant jobs in the U.S. will grow by 49 percent from 2002-2012, while total U.S. employment is projected to increase by only 15 percent during this period.

All information updates are posted on the AAPA Web site at http://www.aapa.org/research. Reporters may access additional information on PAs through the AAPA News Room at http://www.aapa.org/newsroom.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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