The Society of Physician Assistants in Otorhinolaryngology / Head & Neck Surgery (SPAO-HNS)

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is a physician assistant or PA?

The Physician Assistant or PA is a skilled person, qualified by rigorous academic and extensive clinical training , to provide services to patients with the supervision of a licensed physician. A PA is graduate of a competency based medical program accredited by an independent organization supported by the American Medical Association , the American Academy of Physician Assistants, and other national organizations. PAs are part of the "Physician-PA Team" and together, they are dedicated to your health and well-being.

Click here to view an article about Physician Assistants in Otolaryngology.

How will physicians be reimbursed for PA services?

PAs are providers with Medicare and Medicaid, and are reimbursed at 85% of the supervising physician's contracted charges. Many third party carriers also reimburse supervising physicians for PA services. Consult individual health plans and state regulations for details. For more information, visit AAPA's Reimbursement webpage.

What can a PA do?

The tasks Physician Assistants perform depends on their practice setting, education, experience, and state laws and regulations. In general, PAs:

  • Perform physical examinations
  • Elicit medical histories
  • Diagnose & treat illnesses and injuries
  • Order & interpret laboratory & radiographic studies
  • Educate & counsel patients
  • Perform minor surgical procedures
  • First Assist in surgery
  • Assist with call
  • Render emergency care
  • Facilitate patient referral to the appropriate physician or agency
  • Conduct research & drug studies
  • In all states PAs prescribe medication

“..[is there a] number of cases that are required for certification of the physician assistant for solo performance of different procedures in ENT, e.g., flexible fiberoptic laryngoscopy and peritonsillar abscess drainage”

There are no state laws or regulations that require a set number of cases. Generally, the number of required cases is determined by each institution, based on accepted standards of medical practice and recommendations from the supervising physician(s). Those physicians are in the best position to directly observe the PA and evaluate the PA’s competence. Sometimes, specialty societies provide guidance as well but in this case, there doesn't appear to be any from either the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery or the Society of Physician Assistants in Otolaryngology.

How can a physician utilize a PA?

Many physicians have asked about the utilization of PAs. Physician assistants practice in every aspect of otorhinolaryngology/ head & neck surgery. Below are two excellent articles published in ENT Today as well as two briefs published by AAPA.

A Partner in the Business: Practices see mid-level providers as valuable additions
Collegial Relationships: Extending Otolaryngology Practice with Other Professional Providers
The Physician-PA Team
Hiring a PA - The Benefits for Physicians and Practices

What about hiring a PA?

For more information on hiring PA, click here.

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