Understanding the Role of a Physician Assistant (PA)

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Topics include: Understanding and Treatments

Lindsey Lyle discusses the vital role of a physician assistant (PA) in patient care. Lindsey explains that the first goal of a PA is to keep patients healthy and to make sure they achieve the best medical management possible. How do the physician and PA collaborate?  When should patients call the clinic? Lyle expands our understanding of a role that is often overlooked and misunderstood. 

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Lindsey Lyle:

Typically, in the clinic, we have a team composed of a nurse, a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, a mid level, and a physician.  And the role of the PA actually has to do a lot with monitoring during the interim of physician visits.  Our patients have labs that are done very frequently, and it's just not feasible for the physician to see them that often.  And so a PA is medically trained.  We have gone through two years of master’s work, most of us, and trained in the medical model. 

And then upon getting a job, we learn more about the specialties.  So having worked at MD Anderson, most of the PAs in the leukemia department have been there, have been trained specifically about myeloid neoplasms.  And so we have the knowledge to kind of help guide treatment options that we can discuss with our attending physicians, and we are able to closely monitor these patients and kind of keep them healthy from visit to visit. 

So basically, we are a major advocate for our patients in the way that we see them on a more frequent basis, and we can know exactly what needs to be brought to the attention of the physician in order to make sure that they are achieving the best medical management that they can. 

So luckily, I feel as though I am very well connected with my attending physicians and am able to email them even if they are out of the country to get responses about what to do in these scenarios. 

So there are many things that I could talk about, many symptoms, but I think that the general term would just say if there's anything that's new that you are experiencing or anything that's happened rapidly, acute onset, then I would definitely call the clinic and ask to speak with a medical person, myself or the physician.  

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on May 7, 2014