Why You Should Hire a Surgical PA

Many surgeons who are considering hiring a PA are uncertain exactly how best utilize one in their practices. You may be wondering:

  • How can PAs bring money into the practice?
  • Will my patients allow this non-physician to examine them?
  • Will the PA be eligible for reimbursement?

The AASPA would like to share a few guidelines on why you should hire a surgical PA and how best to integrate them into your practice.

Do You Really Need a PA?

The surgical PA is well-known as the “best instrument a surgeon has.” Several studies have shown the cost-effectiveness of the surgical PA; most offices and hospitals have found that surgical PAs can support a positive cash flow.

Reflect on your present life and the commitments that you are engaged in and calculate the hours. Then consider on the quality of life that you could have if you had someone that you could trust to manage the nuts and bolts of your practice.

In the Office

Surgical PAs can be indispensable in an office setting, performing about 80% of tasks normally performed by physicians. They can perform all manner of patient care in the office setting, as determined by the supervising surgeon. Tasks can include:

  • Preoperative exams
  • Post-op wound checks
  • Removal of sutures and staples, removal of drains
  • Pre and post-op teaching, pre-op consents

When dealing with a new patient, initiate this relationship by introducing this PA as your associate Mr/Mrs/Ms (name). This allows the patient to believe that you have placed a certain degree of confidence in this person. Explain that a PA has been trained to perform 80% of the tasks normally performed by physicians.

At the Hospital

Surgical PAs can alleviate the frustration of canceled, delayed or bumped cases and greatly improve the continuity of patient care. Surgical PAs are trained to provide pre-, intra- and post-operative care. Your PA can become the person directly responsible for the following:

  • Ordering labs and interpretation
  • Ordering radiological studies and reading their findings
  • Ordering EKG and reviewing the interpretation and deciding if this needs clearance before the 8:00am scheduled surgery
  • Ordering angiograms, CT scans and other special procedures
  • Making sure there is a pre-op clearance if needed
  • Ordering medications and other pre and post-op orders

1st Assistant in Surgery – Part of first assist duties is to make sure that the necessary equipment and supplies that will be needed are available. Surgical PAs maintain up-to-date surgical skills with the help of CME and the personal on-going training their supervising physicians.

Post-op – Surgical PAs can write orders in the recovery room (allows then to see the family), visit patients on the floors and in the SICU, order the appropriate treatment and medications and keep up-to-date on the status of the patient. Removing IVs, drains, tubes central lines, catheters, etc.

Discharge Planning – Surgical PAs can dictate discharge summaries, write prescriptions, review discharge instructions, confirm follow-up appointments, etc.

Surgical PAs as Part of Your Team

If you are in group practice, your PA will be operating with all members of the team. After a period of time, this PA will become extremely proficient and will learn different techniques from the many surgeons on your team. This will make the PA a valuable resource for you in surgery. You can also send this individual to CME meetings to further their education and usefulness to you.

Research & Administration

Surgical PAs can act as researcher, committee member and supplier and pharmaceutical rep liaison.

  • Researcher – Conduct, design and/or participate in research studies.
  • Committee Member – Play a role on education committees, medical supply, and equipment committees and more. A hospital selects its surgical equipment based on the demands of the surgeon. More and more, surgical PAs are deciding which products to use.
  • Supplier and Pharmaceutical Rep Liaison – Serve as a mediator between the surgeon and/or practice and the drug reps/instrument sales reps.

Reimbursement Issues

PAs are providers of Medicare (at 85% of physician charge), and there is reimbursement for physician services provided by PAs in many insurance plans.

Learn more about Reimbursement

Specialty Surgical PAs

Please visit the Specialties section of this website to read about how a surgical PA might practice in your particular surgical practice.

Ready to Recruit a Surgical PA?

Advertise your job openings in the following venues:

  • The bi-monthly publication Sutureline is an inexpensive media to advertise for both experienced surgical PAs and new graduate PAs
Get AASPA Ad Rates
  • The Careers section of this website

For more information, contact us at [email protected]