November 27 marks National Physician Assistant (PA) day in Canada and this year’s celebration has a special significance for The Scarborough Hospital (TSH). On November 3, we welcomed the first group of PAs to support our physicians in their assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients in our Emergency Department (ED) and General Internal Medicine program. Along with the five PAs who started at TSH in November, we will be welcoming another three PAs in January to support our Nephrology program.
The introduction of PAs at TSH means enhanced efficiency, patient safety and quality of care for patients, families and our community. PAs are academically prepared and skilled health care professionals who provide a broad range of medical services, such as taking medical histories, conducting physical exams, ordering and interpreting tests, and diagnosing and treating illnesses. PAs work under the direct supervision of a licensed physician and their role is to complement and extend the services of that physician.
PAs are not new to health care. They were first introduced in the United States in the 1960s, and have been in Canada for decades – mainly in the Canadian Armed Forces. In 2002, they were integrated into the Manitoba health care system, and since then have become progressively more popular in acute care hospitals. There are more than 400 PAs currently practicing in Canada, including in Manitoba, Alberta and New Brunswick. Since being introduced in Ontario six years ago, a number of our peer hospitals, such as Markham-Stouffville, Toronto East General and Southlake have also integrated PAs to expand their interprofessional teams.
We are grateful to HealthForceOntario, an agency of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, for providing a portion of the overall compensation, which made it possible for us to begin integrating PAs into our teams. With TSH’s strong track record of interprofessional practice and an open-minded culture, our hospital is an ideal setting to integrate PAs into our care delivery model.
I extend my appreciation to our many team members who are assisting our PAs in their orientation to TSH. We look forward to the many benefits PAs will bring to our hospital and their contribution in helping us achieve our Mission to deliver an outstanding care experience that meets the unique needs of each and every patient.