Physician Assistant Day spotlights growing demand for PAs among doctors, patients, and Canadian health systems

All Canadians would benefit from expanding the use of PAs to close gaps in care and save money

OTTAWA, November 27, 2018 — As Canadian physician assistants (PAs) celebrate National Physician Assistant Day on November 27, 2018, they are reminding provincial and territorial governments that including PAs on modern health care teams is fundamental to improving access to care and driving efficiencies.

“We hear about the crisis in health care every day—from long waits in emergency rooms to record levels of doctor burnout,” said Trevor Stone, President of the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants. “PAs are increasingly viewed as key to building a health workforce that can respond to these challenges and governments need to remove barriers that prevent us from practicing and serving patients.”

Just last year a report from the Conference Board of Canada called PAs “a largely untapped resource that can help governments continue to provide high levels of service while reducing overall system costs”. The report recommends that Canadian health systems optimize the use of PAs and that governments implement appropriate funding models. Globally, the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of PAs has driven their growth in the United States, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, to name just a few countries where they are widely integrated.

Across Canada pressure is mounting on governments to act on these recommendations. Notably, calls are the loudest in British Columbia, where groups ranging from Doctors of BC through to the BC Chamber of Commerce have long been in favour of using PAs as a concrete way to address poor access to care, especially in rural communities hardest hit by the shortage of health care providers.

PAs are skilled health care professionals who work independently under the supervision of a licensed doctor to extend productivity and allow more patients to be seen. They conduct physical exams, order and interpret tests, diagnose illnesses, and prescribe medications. Today there are over 600 certified PAs practicing in New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta and they play a central role in the Canadian Armed Forces, where they care for Canada’s military personnel at home and abroad.

“It’s clear that now more than ever Canada needs PAs,” said Stone. “Putting PAs with the right skills in the right settings, starting with rural communities, is an obvious way to save money and improve the health of Canadians.”

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: capa-acam.ca.

Media Contact: Andrea Tiwari, Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, atiwari@capa-acam.ca or 613 614 6863.

Calls grow louder for British Columbia to introduce physician assistants to address health care woes

BC Green Party and Doctors of BC join growing list of groups supporting the use of physician assistants to ease pressure on health system

VICTORIA, October 22, 2018 — Over the weekend, BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver added his support for bringing physician assistants into British Columbia’s team-based model of care.

“You are part of the future of health care,” said Weaver in an address to members of the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) at its annual member meeting and conference in Victoria on Friday, October 19.

Weaver’s show of support comes at a time when wait times and demand for family physicians top the list of concerns of many British Columbians. “The number one challenge in B.C. health care is a lack of family doctors and physician assistants should be part of the solution to close the gap for patients who deserve timely access to care.”

During an opening address to more than 180 conference delegates, Dr. Kathleen Ross, President-Elect of Doctors of BC, described a fundamental need for the role of physician assistants, who help manage all aspects of care for less acute cases and free up doctors to spend more time with patients who need their specialized skills and expertise.

“As we move toward more team-based primary care, physician assistants would be an important support for doctors and patients in British Columbia and we hope the current government will see the way forward in terms of recognizing them in the province,” she said.

These pledges add to the groundswell of support for jumpstarting the process of bringing these advanced practice clinicians on board in a province where 700,000 people don’t have a family doctor and there is an ongoing struggle to recruit and retain health care providers in remote communities.

“Putting physician assistants to work in British Columbia has been stalled for far too long,” said Trevor Stone, the Association’s President. “We have members across the country who would come back here to work in a heartbeat and with better and faster access to care, it’s patients who would be the big winners.”

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: capa-acam.ca.

Media Contact: Andrea Tiwari, Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, atiwari@capa-acam.ca or 613 614 6863.

Physician assistants descend on Victoria to urge NDP government to start using PAs to address gaps in care

More than 180 physician assistants are in Victoria from October 18 to 21 to discover the latest clinical practice developments and tell the government that British Columbia needs PAs

VICTORIA, October 19, 2018 — Canadian physician assistants (PAs) have gathered in Victoria to urge the NDP government to recognize and introduce PAs in the province to address doctor shortages and poor access to care.

“It’s time for British Columbia to catch up with Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick and many other parts of the world when it comes to leveraging PAs to tackle wait times and escalating health care costs,” said Trevor Stone, President of the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants. “Putting PAs with the right skills in the right settings, starting with rural communities, is an obvious way to save money and improve the health of British Columbians, yet the government refuses to act.”

From coast to coast, CAPA has members with tremendous skills and experience who would come to B.C. and make immediate contributions but are completely thwarted by bureaucratic hurdles. CAPA members are calling on Health Minister Adrian Dix to modernize the Health Professions Act to include PAs and create a plan to integrate them into communities with the greatest need.

“It’s a disgrace that military veterans, who served as PAs abroad and right here at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, cannot maintain a career in their chosen field when they transition to civilian life,” said Stone. “These individuals would love nothing more than to use their skills and training to provide care in their home communities.”

More than 180 Canadian and international PAs are converging in Victoria for the annual CAPA conference, where they’ll discuss emerging trends in clinical practice and showcase examples of how PAs improve quality and drive efficiencies. CAPA is also meeting with local politicians and health system leaders, encouraging them to take action so PAs can start making a difference.

Some of the critical topics to be addressed at the four-day conference, happening from October 18 to 21, include:

  • Mental health — a look at the landscape of mental health services and how PAs can help bridge gaps in access to care.
  • Indigenous health care — an exploration of the role of elders in health services and applying Indigenous Culturally Safe Practice in patient encounters.
  • Rural and remote medicine — learnings from the first PA in Manitoba who serviced 26 northern and remote communities more than 800 kilometres from a tertiary care centre.

The conference is the largest annual event that brings together these advanced practice clinicians to build their skills and highlight the diverse roles they play in cancer centres, long-term care facilities, emergency rooms and beyond.

Media are invited to attend – please consult the online program and check in at the registration desk to access the sessions.

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: capa-acam.ca.

Media Contact: Andrea Tiwari, Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, atiwari@capa-acam.ca or 613 614 6863.

Physician assistants: We can help ease the strain on B.C.’s health system, like we’re doing across the country and the globe

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants calls on the NDP government to catch up with Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick and introduce physician assistants to help improve the health of British Columbians

OTTAWA, October 11, 2018 — Ahead of its national conference in Victoria, the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) is reminding the NDP government that introducing physician assistants in the province is necessary to improving British Columbia’s troubled health care system.

“Cracks in our health system are reaching crisis levels — just ask the 700,000 people without a family doctor or those living in remote communities who are desperate for health care providers,” said Sean Kurtz, CAPA’s Provincial Director for British Columbia. “Provincial and international health systems are leveraging physician assistants to make care more accessible and save money, so why isn’t B.C. doing the same?”

From October 18 to 21, Canadian physician assistants will gather in Victoria to attend the 2018 CAPA Annual Conference and to urge Health Minister Adrian Dix to make the integration of physician assistants a priority. Immediate steps should be modernizing the Health Professions Act to include them and creating a plan for funding models that would allow doctors and health authorities to bring them into residential care, remote communities, and specialty practices.

“The government’s support of the team-based model of care is encouraging, but without physician assistants there is a missing link,” said Kurtz. “By adding them where the needs are the greatest, like underserved rural areas, we can make real progress on targets like more same-day appointments and better continuity of care for people with chronic illnesses.”

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.

“Every health system in the country faces the same dilemma of delivering better care, being more efficient, and cutting costs,” said Trevor Stone, CAPA’s President and a physician assistant in Winnipeg. “Now is the time to take what is working elsewhere, scale it up in B.C., and give patients better and faster access to care.”

Additional Information:

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: capa-acam.ca.

Media Contact:

Andrea Tiwari, Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, atiwari@capa-acam.ca or 613 614 6863.

Canadian physician assistants applaud New Brunswick Liberal commitment to creating five non-urgent care centres

Canadian Association of Physician Assistants calls on the Liberals to support modern team-based care and include physician assistants in funding models

Ottawa, August 28, 2018 — The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) welcomes today’s commitment from the New Brunswick Liberal Party to help tackle emergency room wait times in the province by investing in non-urgent primary care centres.

In his announcement Leader Brian Gallant pledged that, if re-elected, a Liberal government will create five new non-urgent care centres across New Brunswick to reduce the pressure on emergency rooms, which are often a first resort for those without a family doctor or who cannot access timely primary care.

“It’s encouraging to see Brian Gallant and the New Brunswick Liberals focus on strategies that can pay off for patients and health care providers,” said Kevin Dickson, CAPA’s Provincial Director for New Brunswick. “By creating new options to care for patients with less complex cases, we can hopefully improve patient flow, decrease ER visits, and ease the workload of the medical team.”

Dickson and two additional physician assistants currently practice at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital ER, where they work in a fast-track area caring for patients with the type of lower-acuity ailments that inevitably come through the ER. The physician assistant program has been central to helping the Chalmers ER reduce wait times and improve key benchmarks like the Leave Without Being Seen rate and Initial Practitioner Assessment Time.

CAPA encourages the Liberals to outline funding models for these non-urgent care centres which include physician assistants. Primary care is an area where physician assistants are proven to help deliver more efficient health care and, as part of the multidisciplinary team, they can work with doctors, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and other allied health professionals to deliver seamless patient care.

“We’re pleased to see the Liberals put forward a creative solution to address some of the challenges we face,” said Dickson. “We’ve proven that integrating physician assistants in emergency care brings results, and we can do the same for primary care in New Brunswick.”

Leading up to the election, CAPA is calling on all political parties to commit to increasing the number of physician assistants practicing across the province and to include this imperative in their election platforms. By expanding the use of these practitioners and allowing them to work to the full extent of their training, we can build a health workforce that is responsive to the needs of all New Brunswickers.

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: capa-acam.ca.

Media Contact: Andrea Tiwari, Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, atiwari@capa-acam.ca or 613 614 6863.

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