Several provisions simplifying the way physician assistants (PAs) are licensed in Oregon are now a reality after Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) signed Senate Bill 224 into law on Aug. 4, 2011.

Under the Physician Assistant Practice Modernization Act, PAs wishing to practice in Oregon must now be licensed prior to employment.

The new licensure process will be based on a practice agreement developed in conjunction with a supervising physician and filed with the Oregon Medical Board, eliminating archaic language that required that each PA’s scope of practice and supervision requirements be determined by the state medical board.

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“Delays, seemingly arbitrary rejections, micro-scrutiny and inconsistency have caused numerous PAs to simply give up the pursuit of licensure and/or employment and move to other states,” the Modernization of Oregon Society of Physician Assistant Statute Senate Health Care, Human Services and Rural Health Policy Committee wrote in testimony supporting the bill.

Previously, PAs first had to secure a job, then complete a practice description and license application along with a supervising physician, and then wait for the next PA Committee Meeting and Oregon Medical Board Meeting, which were often not synced, to receive licensure — an often-lengthy process.

On average PAs seeking licensure had to wait three to six months or longer to receive licensure in a process marred by inconsistent approvals and rejections, according to the committee.

“Physician-PA teams are extremely effective in the clinical setting, and it’s great to see this model in action in advocacy,” American Academy of Physician Assistant President Robert Wooten, PA-C, said in a press release. “The signing of SB 224 is good news for patients in Oregon.