The physician assistant: Shifting the Paradigm of European medical practice?

HSR Proc Intensive Care Cardiovasc Anesth. 2011;3(4):255-62.


Introduction: Physician Assistants are medical care providers working under supervision and/or in collaboration with a medical doctor. The Physician Assistant profession has its origin in the United States, but in the last decade has also reached other nations to overcome medical staffing issues. With little summarized literature available, the aim of this study is to portray the Physician Assistant movement in Europe.

Methods: A literature search was conducted in Academic Search Premier, CINAHL, ERIC and MEDLINE databases. In addition, European PA educational programs, professional associations, and local experts on the PA profession were queried.

Results: Currently, in Europe there are three countries in which physician assistants are trained and are working. The educational models of physician assistant training in the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands differ, as do the degrees offered by the training institutions.

Conclusions: There is scant literature about physician assistant training and practice in Europe available in the common scientific databases. The paucity of literature makes it difficult for an outsider to observe the developments and to value the impact of a new profession on national health systems. Further high-quality research is needed to adequately characterize physician assistant education and implementation across Europe.

Keywords: Europe; medical task shifting; physician assistant; task reallocation.