Physician Assistants Match Medical Residents in ICU Skills

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Score in clinical performance in the simulated ICU setting equal for PAs, medical residents.
Score in clinical performance in the simulated ICU setting equal for PAs, medical residents.

HealthDay News — Physician assistants (PAs) exhibit equal performance on clinical skills as medical residents (MRs) with 6 to 24 months of experience in the intensive care unit (ICU), according to a study recently published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.

Anneke J.A.H. van Vught, PhD, from the HAN University of Applied Sciences in Nijmegen, Netherlands, and colleagues examined the level of clinical skills of PAs compared with MRs with 6 to 24 months of work experience in the ICU. A simulated ICU comprising 2 scenarios on a human patient simulator with typical ICU cases was used to observe clinical skills of PAs and MRs.

Eleven PAs and 10 MRs participated in the study. The researchers found that the scores were equal for PAs and MRs in their clinical performance in the simulated ICU setting (PA: 66 ± 13% vs MR: 68 ± 9%; P = 0.86).

"This finding provides new evidence suggesting that PAs are safe to adjust to the ICU care team and supports a growing role for PAs in patient care management in the ICU setting," the authors write. "This has implications for medical/nursing directors, intensivists, hospitalist teams, and practice administrators in ICUs."

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