Physician assistants (PAs) exhibit equal performance on the clinical skills of medical residents (MR) with six to 24 months of experience in the intensive care unit (ICU). The study was published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.

Clinical Skills Of Physician Assistants 

Researchers examined the level of clinical skills of PAs compared with MRs with six to 24 months of work experience in the ICU. A simulated ICU comprising two scenarios on a human patient simulator with typical ICU cases was used to observe clinical skills of PAs and MRs.

ICU Care Team

Substitution of care from medical doctors (MDs) to physician assistants (PAs) is increasingly being adopted as a strategy to augment staffing and promote continuity and quality care in hospitals, including the intensive care unit (ICU).

Use of PAs in multidisciplinary staffing has been identified as a solution for meeting the shortage of medical doctors on the ward, health care costs, improving continuity of care and doctor's workload.

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 percent versus 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.

This has implications for medical/nursing directors, intensivists, hospitalist teams, and practice administrators in ICUs. This study showed the equal performance of PAs and MRs on clinical skills in the simulated ICU setting.