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October 5, 2013

How physician assistants help you and your doctor

Oct. 6-12 is National Physician Assistant Week, which honors the contributions of these medical practitioners who deliver high quality patient care in doctors’ offices, hospitals, urgent care centers, and medical clinics every day.  

By Dr. Neal Zeigler and PA Ben Brackett

Weatherford Regional Medical Center

If you need to visit an emergency room you want the best treatment possible from the best medical staff. Today, that staff probably includes not only physicians but other health care providers, and certified physician assistants (PAs) are often key members of strong medical teams.

At Weatherford Regional Medical Center, Neal Zeigler, MD, and Ben Brackett, PA-C, work as a seamless team that treats a wide range of illnesses and emergencies, from colds to car wrecks.

In an emergency room, providers see new patients, often without any prior history, and providers have to quickly discern the problem, for example, is it heartburn or a heart attack?

“Ben has a broad recognition of differential diagnoses,” said Zeigler.  “I don’t have to ask if he thought about this or that. He has the experience to consider options, and he brings me in where he needs me.

“There is an art to being a PA as well as a science, in terms of medical knowledge,”  Zeigler said. “It’s important to establish rapport with the patient, and Ben has a knack for that.  He is a good listener and thorough when explaining options.” 

With a growing physician shortage in Texas, PAs can improve access to health care because their availability allows patients to be seen in a timelier manner. In addition, as reimbursement pressures increase, the physician-PA team model for delivering health care is more sustainable.

In June, Gov. Rick Perry signed a new law improving access to health care by making it easier for physician assistants to practice in under-served and rural areas and enhancing their prescriptive authority.

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