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This program has been reviewed and is approved for a maximum of 32.5 hours of AAPA Category I CME credit by the Physician Assistant Review Panel. Physician assistants should claim only those hours actually spent participating in the CME activity.


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The Growing Surgical PA Profession

Opportunities in all surgical specialties are exploding! Why is the surgical PA profession expanding so rapidly?

Cutbacks in Physician Surgical Residency Slots

The number of residency slots for physicians training in surgery has been decreasing yearly since 1980. The workload at surgical teaching institutions has not gone down, and surgical PAs are ideal for helping busy hospitals pre-op patients, keeping the OR close to schedule and performing admission and discharge work.

Reduced Resident Work Hours

Regulations now require that all physician residents be limited to an 80-hour workweek. This has had a huge impact on the way that teaching hospitals function. AASPA has been working closely with physician and surgeon organizations to help combat the strain on the health care system. Surgical PAs are taking up the slack when the law requires that physicians-in-training go home.

Reimbursement for PA Surgical Services

PAs can be reimbursed for their services, making them effective in the business of medicine, both in large teaching hospitals and smaller private practices. The presence of a surgical PA on a surgeon's team allows the numbers of patients being treated to expand, thus creating sources of income.

Physician/Surgeon Relief

PAs are member of a team lead by the physician: PAs can use this relationship to become a true partner with the surgeon, which will free the surgeon to concentrate on the most complex cases. Surgical PAs often alternate “call” with their physicians.

The February 2002 edition of The Archives of Surgery report that medical students are showing a lower interest in a career in surgery. This will continue to stress the surgical workforce, and PAs are ideal to help fill the void.

Surgical PA Profession Advocacy

The final reason why our field is growing so rapidly is because of the daily work of the AASPA – much of it behind the scenes.

We network with physicians, surgeons, their organizations, hospitals, HMOs and more to guarantee that they know the effective role that surgical PAs have in healthcare. The surgical PA organizations were the first groups to ever create a marketing advertisement for our profession.

In general, surgical PAs are known as “champions of patient safety.” AASPA participates in national committees promoting safety in the peri-operative setting.

More Information

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