The COVID-19 pandemic has killed over 80,000 people in the US alone and has left the economy devastated. Many people have received severe pay cuts or have lost their jobs. No profession is safe from this, not even the medical profession since Physician assistants getting furloughed. While there is a shortage of doctors and nurses, other people contributing to the medical profession are being side-lined. There are about 140,000 physician assistants or Pas in the United States. Due to the pandemic, one in every five physician assistants is now furloughed. This is a worrying sign since PAs are the first healthcare providers for a lot of people.
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Physician assistants getting furloughed should be on the frontlines
Physician assistants aren’t just in place to help out physicians. They are medical professionals who can prescribe medicines and diagnose illnesses. They are often the ones who provide primary healthcare to patients. Thus, them getting furloughed is a hit on the handling capacity of medical establishments. Lesser people will now be available to diagnose patients and give them medicines. PAs significantly bolster the ranks of medical establishments.
22% or one in every five physician assistants are now furloughed. Another 4% have been completely laid off. About 59% of all physician assistants have complained that their working hours have been forcefully cut. Furthermore, 31% of all physicians are forcefully taking a salary cut. These findings are as per a new survey done to determine the health of this sector. The numbers are truly worrying. At a time when there is a shortage of medical professionals, physician assistants are losing jobs. When there are talks about providing hazard pay to medical professionals, physician assistants are having pay cuts. Their contributions were important in this public health crisis. There is a stark contrast between the need of the hour and the reality.
Physician assistants have been instrumental at the time of this crisis. They have stepped and volunteered to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Many units in hospitals have been successfully converted to COVID-19 units thanks to their efforts. Physician assistants have been successfully redeployed to help with the testing for COVID-19. They have also helped in caring for COVID-19 patients.
The Henry Ford Hospital which is in Detroit was the perfect example of such efforts. 19 physician assistants helped in converting an orthopedic unit into a COVID-19 unit. Then they helped with fighting off COVID-19. With a fall in COVID-19 cases and hospital procedures on hold. Besides, even the PAs at Henry Ford Hospital suffered. 3 of them lost their job. Also, the rest had to cut down their working hours.
Without appropriate measures, the Us stands to lose many physician assistants. 743 physician assistants were interviewed. Moreover, 6% claimed that they were changing specialties. 10% of them had already done so. 39% of PAs that were redeployed to COVID-19 units said that there was a lack of Personal Protective Equipment.
Physician assistants are valuable healthcare professionals who can help fight COVID-19. We need them after this crisis too and hence we should look after them too.