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Physician assistants could be coming soon to B.C. emergency rooms

College of Physicians and Surgeons change coming to allow PAs to work under physician direction
British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix speaks during an announcement, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, June 9, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The B.C. Ministry of Health says a proposed bylaw change by the body that regulates doctors could allow physician assistants to work in provincial emergency rooms.

The ministry says the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. has moved to make the change, which would require physician assistants to register with the college and work in hospital emergency rooms under doctor supervision.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the ministry and the college have worked together to make the change, which will give patients better access to services while supporting other health-care workers.

The ministry says physician assistants could give patient exams, order tests and prescribe drugs, along with other services, under a physician’s direction.

The college’s CEO, Dr. Heidi Oetter, says the regulator looks forward to bringing physician assistants into the fold to license them to work in B.C. emergency rooms, following other provinces including Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The ministry statement says it’s estimated that between 30 and 50 physician assistants live in B.C., and only three programs offer the training across the country, typically taking two years to complete.

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