By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY – Some are calling the shortage of doctors in the U.S. alarming. To help ease the problem, more and more health care faculties are relying on Physician Assistants.
Physician Assistants can do almost everything a primary care doctor can do, and they can make it so that patients can be seen a lot easier.
For 10 years Nicole Miller has provided medical care to thousands of Oklahomans, but not as a doctor, as a Physician Assistant, playing the role of a doctor without actually being one.
"I love what I do," said Miller. "I get to make diagnostic decision every day, treat people, get one-on-one contact. I get a lot of hands-on with patients and that really was my ultimate goal as working with medicine."
What Miller loves about the job is why more and more people are choosing to become P.A.s instead of doctors.
"There have been a lot of opportunities for P.A.s and have been," OU Physician Assistant Director Dan McNeill said.
McNeill runs the Physician Assistant program at OU and has seen the demand firsthand.
"The number of people applying to this program was in the dozens and now over the past few years, 200 to 250 are applying for 50 jobs," McNeill said.
The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts the U.S. will be short 150,000 doctors in 15 years.
Physicians Assistants will help fill that void.
"They've been a very productive part of not only our practice here at the University of Oklahoma, but the state and nation," OU Physician Dr. Steven Crawford said.
"We do try to emulate the care that they give, so if we work in a specialty with that doctor we would try to give them the care in an aspect that they would," Miller said.
P.A.s are in such demand Forbes Magazine rated a Physician Assistant the number one profession for those with Master's Degrees.