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What is the Physician Assistant’s Role?

At Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, there are many Physician Assistants that work with the physicians in the office and also assist in the operating room. Each Physician-PA team has developed their own working relationship to give our patients the best care and to allow the physician to work as efficiently as possible in addition to allowing for more efficient patient care.

What is a Physician Assistant and what role do they play Spine Orthopedics?
The AAPA defines a Physician Assistant as a health care professional licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Physician supervision in the state of Ohio is defined as direct on-site presence of the physician or availability of the physician by telephone and the physician being present within 60 miles of the location the Physician Assistant is practicing. As part of our comprehensive responsibilities, we conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and write prescriptions (

As a Physician Assistant in Spine Orthopedics, PA’s can assist the doctor in evaluating and treating patients. When a patient comes to the office for their initial visit, the PA will conduct a thorough history and physical as well as review and explain any imaging that has been obtained. Based on the information obtained, the PA will usually give an explanation of the diagnosis and possible treatments that may be offered to the patient. My findings from the history, physical examination, diagnostic testing, and possible diagnosis are discussed with the doctors. He then visits with and evaluates the patient, examining further if needed, and discusses the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options with the patient and answers any questions the patient or their family may have. In addition to new patients PA’s see patients at their follow up visits. At these visits, the PA will evaluate the patient’s progress after treatment, and determine if further treatment is warranted. The patient always has the option to speak with the doctor, even if they are visiting with a PA.

When surgery is needed for the patient, a pre-operative visit is scheduled one to two weeks before the surgery. This visit consists of pre-operative counseling prior to proceeding with surgery. At this visit the PA will discuss with them the expectations, the risks involved with surgery, restrictions after surgery, wound care and any warning signs that could occur post operatively. At this visit the patient is required to sign surgical consent forms, and the appropriate brace that is to be worn after surgery will be fitted for the patient at this appointment.

PA’s also assist the doctor in surgery, which leads to a more efficient procedure and decreases the risks for the patient as well as creates consistency in the operating room. After surgery, the doctor and the PA will alternate the days that they see patient’s during their hospital stay and will discuss any concerns post-operatively.