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A Prevention First Approach Offers Relief to Our Ailing Health Care System

Obesity … diabetes … hypertension … cardiovascular disease.

One of the most frustrating realities in health care is that the illnesses most dangerous and most costly are also often the most preventable. A recent report by the National Prevention Council finds that half of all Americans do not get the preventive care they need, yet tens of thousands of lives would be saved if they did.

The solution to this problem lies in putting prevention first. While our health care system excels at treating Americans to help them live longer with chronic disease, it often ignores the steps that are necessary to keep them from developing life-long illnesses in the first place. An emphasis on prevention also helps patients to see themselves as partners with their health care providers in providing the most effective, high quality care for themselves and their families.

Physician assistants, essential members of today’s integrated health care team, have long recognized the valuable role that prevention plays in improving overall health and saving the nation millions in health care costs. Educated in the same manner as physicians, PAs alleviate the workload of overburdened physicians, allowing them to spend more time caring for patients with advanced or complex conditions.

“By putting prevention first we can help patients and their families avert a lifetime of limitations and significant health complications,” said Harris Patel, PA-C, ATC, “It’s time for all us to shift our thinking toward a more pro- active approach to providing top-quality health care.”

When used effectively as part of an integrated health care team, PAs can spend more time with patients, listening to their individual concerns and detecting the warning signs and symptoms of chronic illnesses of which patients and sometimes even their doctors may not be aware.

PAs must undergo rigorous education that involves both clinical and classroom components. The average length of a PA program is 27 months, and PA students complete, on average, more than 2,000 hours of supervised clinical practice prior to graduation. There are more opportunities to join this profession than ever before, with 150 accredited PA educational programs located at academic medical centers, colleges and universities, and most of these programs offer a master’s degree.

By standardizing preventive care for all patients, the health care system can improve the present and future health of individuals, families and communities across the nation.

“I have worked with Physician Assistants for a long time in my practice and I have complete faith that PAs make healthcare more efficient.  The mission of Sports Medicine South is to provide the best medical care for all of our patients.  It is a fact that Physician Assistants help get our patients BEYOND BETTER. I am truly thankful for Diana Dean and Harris Patel.”- Gary A. Levengood, MD, Founder, Sports Medicine South