I saw an article on the web comparing the effectiveness of PAs and MDs with regard to minor ailments, with the result that for minor ailments, MDs were no better than PAs. I've tried finding this article again, but have not been able to do so. Can anyone else provide a link to a similar study?

  • MD is a medical doctor and PA a physician's assistant? If so, can you include this into your question?
    – Jan
    Jan 14 '19 at 7:57
  • @Jan:Yes, yes. (Now, to satisfy the character-count requirement: Hip hip hooray for Esperanto!) Jan 14 '19 at 18:09
  • I would say that PAs are BETTER than MDs when it comes to minor ailments in an internist's or pediatrician's office. At least, my PA is. She has more time to spend with each patient, patiently and personally diagnosing the problem in a detailed manner. Doctors are so overworked and overbooked that unless it's something serious, you have to chain them to the room to make sure they answer your questions.
    – suse
    Jan 15 '19 at 3:18
  • @suse: The article may have even said that, I don't clearly remember. Anyway, all the more reason that I want to locate that (or a similar) article. Jan 15 '19 at 15:55
  • 1
    @suse The question is looking for a reference that compares them on some (possibly objective) criteria, so that we don't rely on personal anecdotes which are often unreliable. Jan 15 '19 at 16:15

1. Physician Assistants: A Literature Review (Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council - HPRAC, 2011 )

The review mentions several studies about the effectiveness of physician assistants.


Contemporary studies suggest that PAs can contribute to the successful attainment of primary care functions, particularly the provision of comprehensive care, accessibility, and accountability.

3. Nurse management of patients with minor illnesses in general practice: multicentre, randomised controlled trial (BMJ, 2000)

Patients were very satisfied with both nurses and doctors, but they were significantly more satisfied with their consultations with nurses (mean (SD) score of satisfaction 78.6 (16.0) of 100 points for nurses v 76.4 (17.8) for doctors...

4. Another one from BMJ, 1995: Establishing a minor illness nurse in a busy general practice

  • The nurse managed 86% of patients without contact with the doctor; half required a prescription signing
  • Half of patients required only advice on self care, and 79% did not reconsult
  • Practice nurses could successfully manage many patients requesting same day appointments with their general practitioner
  • Of 696 consultations in six months, 602 (86%) required no doctor contact. 549 (79%) patients did not reconsult about the episode of illness, and 343 (50%) patients were given advice on self care only. Trained nurses could diagnose and treat a large proportion of patients currently consulting general practitioners about minor illness provided that the nurse has immediate access to a doctor.

  • This is a good reference, but (at least in the US, I think UK as well though I am less familiar) nurses and physicians' assistants are separate categories with different degrees, although the responsibilities of a nurse practitioner and physicians' assistant can be similar. Jan 15 '19 at 17:40
  • OK, let's see what the OP has to say.
    – Jan
    Jan 15 '19 at 18:05
  • @Jan The OP hasn't returned to the site since 4 days after posting the question, so I don't think you're going to get a response.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jun 16 '19 at 15:20
  • @BryanKrause Although the degrees are different, in my experience the roles are largely interchangeable with nearly identical scopes of practice. I've seen a number of practices where the staff is a mix of NPs and PAs and they're both doing the same jobs.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jun 16 '19 at 15:22
  • @CareyGregory Agreed as far as scopes of practice, as I said in my comment the responsibilities can be similar, however the educational philosophies and career trajectories are a bit different, in my mind sufficiently different that the question could be answered separately for each. Jun 16 '19 at 16:02

Physician assistantsundergo intensive medical training and provide many of the same services as doctors. ... “Like physicians, the exact duties of the PA depend on the type of medical setting in which they work and their level of experience, specialty and the state laws where they practice. That being said... Physician assistants undergo intensive medical training and provide many of the same services as doctors (https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/slideshows/10-reasons-to-see-a-physician-assistant) If you need a scholarly link Google scholar narrows down your search more efficiently and accurately, than most scholarly data bases. Then again Cochrane provides meta-analysis, the highest level of research. Be prepared no matter what data base you utilize to search through the articles provided before finding anything remotely related to the key words you used.

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