Association: Hiring more physician assistants one step towards improving access to care in New Brunswick

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants calls on all political parties to commit to increasing the number of physician assistants to help improve the health of New Brunswickers

FREDERICTON, August 27, 2018 — With the provincial election campaign officially underway, the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) is in Fredericton to remind leaders and candidates that adding more physician assistants to the province is part of the solution to improving New Brunswick’s troubled health care system.

“People in this province want a government that will come up with creative solutions to address the access to care issues that have plagued us for years,” said Kevin Dickson, New Brunswick’s Provincial Director for CAPA and a practicing physician assistant at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital. “For the past eight years we’ve shown how physician assistants in Fredericton’s ER can improve care and save money. It’s really high time that more people across New Brunswick had access to them.”

CAPA is meeting with parties and health system leaders, urging them to take action so patients can take full advantage of physician assistants. Immediate steps should be increased funding so health authorities can hire more physician assistants, and a new funding model that would bring them into primary care clinics, long-term care facilities, and specialty practices.

“The status quo is not working for New Brunswick,” said Dickson. “We can point to provinces where the integration of more physician assistants has moved the needle in areas like access to primary care, ER wait times, and overall patient satisfaction. The challenges here aren’t unique, but what we need is for politicians to find the resolve to act — the people of New Brunswick deserve no less.”

Physician assistants are skilled health care providers who work under the supervision of a licensed physician to extend productivity and allow more patients to be seen. They perform tasks delegated by the doctor that include taking patient histories, conducting physical exams, ordering and interpreting tests, and prescribing medications. With a generalist training they can work in a variety of specialties and the nature of the relationship, where the doctor guides shared decision-making and the physician assistant ensures seamless care, brings invaluable efficiencies to our health system.

Just last year a report from the Conference Board of Canada called physician assistants “a largely untapped resource that can help governments continue to provide high levels of service while reducing overall system costs”. The report recommended that health systems optimize the use of physician assistants and that governments implement appropriate funding models.

Additional Information and Resources

Reports from the Conference Board of Canada on the role, effectiveness, and value of physician assistants:

About the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants is the national voice of physician assistants in Canada. We support quality standards and competencies and help establish the profession within the national health care framework. Learn more:

Media Contact: Andrea Tiwari, Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, or 613 614 6863.