Can a PA slice and dice?
December 18, 2012 2:06 PM   Subscribe

Physician Assistant Philter: Considering pursuing this as a career. More specifically, Surgical Physician Assistant. I understand a Physician Assistant works under the license of a Physician, but I am familiar with many offices where on a day-to-day basis, the PA on site has the highest level degree. My specific question is this: what is the most advanced procedure a PA can perform autonomously? For example, I know PAs can perform biopsies of skin lesions, but can they go beyond that?
posted by Stan Grossman to Work & Money (1 answer total)
PA Scope of Practice document (pdf) from the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

Relevant excerpt:
Although there is still some variation, most state laws have abandoned the concept that a medical board or other regulatory agency should micromanage physician-PA teams. Most state PA regulatory agencies have realized that having the board delineate scope of practice for PAs is not only inefficient, but it is also counterproductive to patient-centered care. Wyoming clearly articulates this in its regulations:
“The board does not recognize or bestow any level of competency upon a physician assistant to carry out a specific task. Such recognition of skill is the responsibility of the supervising physician. However, a physician assistant is expected to perform with similar skill and competency and to be evaluated by the same standards as the physician in the performance of assigned duties.”4
To a very large extent, PA scope of practice is determined by the delegatory decisions made by the supervising physician. This allows for flexible and customized team function.

The physician has the ability to observe the PA’s competency and performance and to ensure that the PA executes tasks and procedures in the manner preferred by the supervising physician. The physician is also in the best position to assess the acuity of patient problems seen in a particular setting. Within each type of medical setting, from family practice to surgical facilities, the supervising physician is able to plan for PA use in a manner that is consistent with the PA’s abilities, the physician’s delegatory style and the patients’ needs.
posted by Jahaza at 2:16 PM on December 18, 2012

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