Team DM

Physician Assistants

Common Questions About Physician Assistant

What is a physician assistant?

A physician assistant, commonly referred to as a PA, is a healthcare professional licensed to practice medicine with doctor supervision. Physician assistants can treat patients and write prescriptions. PA’s are trained to recognize when patients need the attention of a supervising doctor or specialist. Physician assistants see patients in the office, as well as assist the doctors in surgery.

Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists utilizes physician assistants (PAs) who practice as part of the medical team in all areas of orthopedics. 

How do doctors and PAs work together?

The relationship between a physician assistant and his or her supervising doctor is characterized by mutual trust and respect; they function as a team in providing quality medical services. The physician assistant is a representative of the doctor and treats patients in the style and manner developed and directed by the supervising doctor.

Physician assistants are colleagues of doctors. They work together to ensure access to quality healthcare in a cost-effective and timely manner. Their training includes anatomy, pharmacology, pathophysiology, clinical medicine, and physical diagnosis and treatment. This training is followed by clinical rotations. A physician assistant is a graduate of an accredited PA program and is authorized by the state or credentialed by the federal government to practice medicine as delegated by and with the supervision of a doctor. He or she is a highly qualified practitioner who is capable of functioning with autonomy as authorized by his or her supervising doctor.

What is a PA’s scope of practice?

Doctors may delegate to PAs those medical duties that are within their scope of practice, training, and experience, which are permitted by state law.

At Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists, our physician assistants (PAs) work closely with our orthopedic doctors to provide the highest level of surgical and nonsurgical care for patients. Physician assistants are highly trained healthcare providers who work under the supervision of our orthopedic doctors to take medical histories, conduct exams, diagnose and treat bone, joint, and muscle injuries and conditions, order and interpret tests such as X-rays and MRI, prescribe medications, and assist our doctors during surgery. 

When might I see a PA at Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists?

You may see a PA at the time of your:

  • Initial visit
  • Follow-Up Care
  • Preoperative Visit
  • Emergency Room Visit
  • Cast Room Visit
  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery, in the Operating Room

You may see the doctor and his or her PA at the same visit. However, if you do not see the doctor, please know that the physician assistant discusses and reviews your case with his or her supervising doctor.

Will my insurance pay for me to see a PA?

It is customary for insurance to cover services rendered by physician assistants.