Community of Port Hardy implores government to allow Physician Assistant to Practice

Community of Port Hardy implores government to allow Physician Assistant to Practice

Published on February 23, 2023

Mayor and Council, First Nations Health Authority, and Doctors in B.C. support proposal to integrate Physician Assistant (PA) model.   British Columbia – January 24, 2023 – The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) has submitted a proposal to the B.C. government to allow a PA to practice in Port Hardy. With the health care system in crisis and many clinics and emergency departments—especially in remote areas of the province—closing their doors, introducing PAs will alleviate the stresses imposed on the system.   PAs are physician extenders that practice with negotiated autonomy. They can perform any task within their supervising physician’s scope of practice, greatly enhancing capacity. Integrating the PA model can reduce emergency room wait times, decrease surgical backlogs and in family care practices, primary care is extended--which increases patient access to timely, quality care and ensures patient safety.  Integrating the PA model in Port Hardy where there is only one physician, will help bridge the gaps in care and improve the monetary value of delivering health care to British Columbians. CAPA’s proposal is supported by the District of Port Hardy Mayor and Council, MLA Michele Babchuk, MP Rachel Blaney, The First Nations Health Authority, and Doctors BC.   Dr. Alexander Nataros—the Port Hardy physician seeking to hire a PA— is convinced that introducing the PA model will extend his practice and increase access to care in the community, “The lack of Physician Assistants in British Columbia represents a significant deficiency in our ability to provide quality care to members of our community. With the government’s approval, if I am able to hire a PA, my ability to serve the community will be bolstered and access to the care that members of the community need will be increased. Government needs to understand the health human resources that we have available in physician assistants; we need to hire a PA in Port Hardy.”  It’s time the B.C. government caught up. The Canadian Armed Forces has been employing PAs for over 20 years. PAs are also working in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, as well as in the natural resource oil/mineral sectors. There are also more than 130,000 PAs working in the U.S., as well as other countries such as the UK and Netherlands who have gone all in on PAs to help address patient access to care and the dire need for more health human resources.  Quick Facts 

  • Almost 1,000 PAs practice across Canada in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. 
  • PAs are practicing across the Globe including in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and more. 
  • Family medicine, emergency medicine, surgical specialties, psychiatry, geriatrics, and general medicine are among the many clinical settings where Canadian PAs are well-established. 
  • In an Ontario study on the utilization of PAs, 71% of physicians working with PAs reported that the PA had a positive impact on patient throughput, with higher results in the non-hospital settings than in the hospital settings.  

CAPA’s BC Director, Lisa Stewart, excited by the Port Hardy proposal said, “Physician Assistants are highly educated providers that work as an extension of a Physician as a part of a healthcare team. Dr. Alex Nataros, a Port Hardy physician, has worked with Canadian PAs in Manitoba and has seen firsthand how they can be a part of the solution. PA’s can see the same type of patient and deliver the same care as a Family Doctor ~75% of the time. If Dr. Nataros had a PA he could add an additional 600-800 more patients to his practice roster. This PA could also cover Emergency shifts allowing Port Hardy’s ER to remain open.”  About the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA)  CAPA 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.      

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