PROFESSION: PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT
The Physician Assistant profession is relatively new in Israel. By definition a Physician Assistant is a healthcare professional, practicing medicine, with collaboration or under supervision, either directly or indirectly, with or by a physician, according to the laws and regulations of the country or state in which he practices. This profession exists in many countries around the world including: The United States of America, Canada, The United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, India, Russia, different states in Africa, etc. The scope and field of Physician Assistants worldwide vary from country to country, or state to state, according to the needs of the local healthcare system, local legislation and regulations, etc. In many countries Physician Assistants practice all aspects of medicine, including taking medical history, carrying out physical exams, diagnosing and treating illnesses and injuries, ordering and interpreting laboratory and imaging tests, executing medical procedures, assisting during operations, providing health education and carrying out patient rounds at hospitalization departments. Most training programs for Physician Assistants worldwide have a prerequisite of a bachelor's degree, background as a healthcare professional and significant clinical experience. Most programs include theoretical studies and clinical rotations, last two years and offer their graduates a Masters degree.
In Israel, the need for creating a profession / role of Physician Assistants was discussed several times in the past. A committee that examined the issue, published its recommendations on July 2013 (Hebrew). The first training course for Physician Assistants in Emergency Medicine was completed on July 20, 2017. A second course was completed on July 9, 2019. Currently, approximately 70 Physician Assistants, work and practice medicine in Emergency Departments all over Israel, take patient medical histories, perform physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries, order and interpret laboratory and imaging tests, perform medical procedures, help treating critical and complex patients in trauma bays, assist in their stabilization and monitoring post resuscitation, transport critical patients to hospitalization units and departments and function as hospital rapid response teams (RRTs). The third training course was scheduled to open during 2020, but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The First Annual Conference for Physician Assistants in Israel took place at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer on April 4, 2019. During 2019, the Israeli Physician Assistant Association (IPAA) was established. Since May 15, 2016, the opening date of the first course for Physician Assistants held by the Israeli Ministry of Health, more than four years have past, and the profession is still in early stages of developement, establishment and maturation.