A Perspective on the Economic Sustainability of the Physician Assistant Profession in Canada

Ian Jones, Russell Ives, Kristen Burrows, Andrew W Jones


Physician Assistant funding is about dollars and cents, but will we have those dollars if we don’t apply common sense? The physician assistant (PA) role represents one of the most revolutionary and yet financially subversive additions to our current health care system.  PAs are medically educated clinicians whose generalist training allows them to work in any setting within a formalized agreement with a physician. When used to their full capacity, PAs help supplement physician care, increase patient access to care, and improve efficiencies.  Despite provincial interest in improving access and delivering cost-effective and efficient health care, our healthcare system rarely factors in the opportunity costs and comparative advantages offered by the introduction of PAs. This paper outlines the importance of increasing Government and employer awareness of sustainable funding models and the growing need to develop alternative policies to support PA utilization to optimize healthcare delivery. If the effectiveness of the PA role comes down to dollars and cents, then it is time to examine those dollars using common economic sense to ensure a sustainable and accessible healthcare system for all Canadians.


PA, Canadian physician assistant, health economics, sustainability,

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