What is a Physician Assistant?
A physician’s assistant is a licensed health care professional who works as part of a health care team; they are put through a rigorous program to ensure that they are qualified to assist doctors in providing medical care. The average program that physician assistants are put through takes 27 months and will require the trainees to pass a curriculum ending with a national certifying examination. After this they are required to maintain their certification by completing 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and take recertification examinations every six years. Once they have completed these requirements they are licensed by the state to have medical duties delegated to them by physicians.
A physician’s assistant who specializes in occupational medicine is required to have extremely detailed knowledge of occupational conditions, as well as the physical requirements necessary to perform job requirements.
A PA should have knowledge of the environment that workers are in and and the sort of jobs they might have to do. With this knowledge they are able to help prevent many injuries as well as keep workers’ comp costs low and thereby saving businesses a lot of money.
Once you have a certified physician’s assistant on your team you will have a safe, easy, and cost-effective way to evaluate employees’ physical abilities to complete the tasks required of them.
Physician Assistants in the Work Place
PAs have familiarity with all types of working environments. They are frequently sent to tour factories, manufacturing plants, and various other workplaces. They can specialize in many different fields, including manufacturing, engineering, education, the service industry, and many others.
It is a good idea to require newly hired employees to undertake a post-offer physical exam, which will determine if they are, or are not, capable of doing certain jobs for your company. PAs can then make a recommendation as to the type of work the employee is capable of doing and issue detailed instructions in writing to injured employees as to how to prevent further injury while at work. They can make suggestions regarding the use of physician-prescribed medications and help to keep injured areas protected.
Certified PAs can also administer other tests depending on the nature of the employee’s work. Drug screenings are often required, for example, and PAs can administer those; in addition, many workplaces require a physical fitness test to assess ability levels and PAs can administer those as well.
Requiring a post offer physical before the employee starts work is extremely helpful in injury prevention since it establishes what the employee’s baseline health is. This way if there is some type of injury, it can be determined whether it was work related or not, and also if it is an injury that can be prevented in the future if more care is taken. Employees should be expected to fill out a detailed health questionnaire and report any pre-existing conditions to the examining doctor.
PAs will oftentimes need to discover if an injury actually is work related or not; to do this, they will establish the baseline health of the individual and make a series of queries from there. For example, if a prospective employee is wearing a knee brace at an examination, the PA can determine early on if they have an injury that will threaten their own safety or the safety of their co-workers.
It is very common for employees to underreport (or not report at all) their pre-existing conditions, so a physician assistant has to be something of a detective when doing their examinations. If an employee comes in for an examination claiming an injury is work related, the PA can help to determine whether or not these claims are accurate or if the injury is due to an unrelated cause. They can also help to determine whether or not an injury can be prevented in the future. It is not, however, legal for a PA to determine the final cause of an injury – only a doctor can do this – so it’s important that the PA have a strong relationship with the treating physician.
With the help of a certified physician assistants, many injuries can be prevented from becoming worse, or prevented altogether, which is a substantial benefit to both employers and employees.
Physician assistants are able to help determine whether workers’ comp claims are legitimate and if they are capable of working. Additionally, they encourage employees to report their injuries as quickly as possible, thereby preventing them from becoming exacerbated later on. Having a certified physician’s assistant on call as part of your occupational medical health care team will help to protect your workers and save your company a good deal of money by increasing awareness of preventable injuries.