British Columbia Eyes Physician Assistants for Emergency Room Enhancement

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The British Columbia Ministry of Health has shed light on a proposed bylaw amendment put forth by the regulating body of doctors. This transformative change could pave the way for physician assistants to provide essential services in provincial hospital emergency rooms.

This proposed modification is the brainchild of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C., the regulatory body. Under the change, physician assistants will be required to register with the college and operate within hospital emergency rooms under direct supervision of qualified doctors.

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Health Minister Adrian Dix has praised the joint efforts of both the ministry and the college in facilitating this significant change. He believes that this will seamlessly enhance patient access to crucial medical services and provide much-needed support to other healthcare personnel.

Under the new regulations, physician assistants will be capable of administering patient examinations, ordering necessary tests, and prescribing required drugs. They would execute these roles and additional services under the expert guidance of a licensed physician.

Dr. Heidi Oetter, CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, expressed her anticipation in onboarding physician assistants to their network. This move will permit these healthcare professionals to contribute their expertise in B.C. emergency rooms, mirroring an approach already adopted in provinces like Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

The Ministry of Health estimates that B.C. is home to between 30 and 50 physician assistants. Presently, only three programs within the country provide the suitable training required for this role, and these typically require a two-year commitment from the students. This proposed change could potentially shift the landscape of healthcare in B.C., improving both service provision and patient care efficiently across the province.