Health Ministry okays physicians’ assistants track at Safed college

Health Minister MK Ya’acov Litzman at Magen David Adom conference, December 28, 2015 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Health Minister MK Ya’acov Litzman at Magen David Adom conference, December 28, 2015
(photo credit: Courtesy)
After years of rejecting the idea of physicians’ assistants arguing it would “lower the level of medical care,” the Health Ministry has approved a bachelor’s degree program in emergency medicine at the Safed Academic College to train paramedics as PAs.
In advanced countries abroad, PAs earn a master’s degree covering a wide variety of medical subjects.
Health Minister MK Ya’acov Litzman wrote to the college this week that the training of PAs will help cope with the shortage of doctors and pressures on hospital doctors. “The integration of PAs in the health system is good news that will give us professional tools to cope with the burden on emergency rooms and wards,” he said.
The PA, which is a prestigious profession in the US and other countries, takes medical histories, performs examinations and procedures, orders treatments, diagnoses diseases, prescribes medication, orders and interprets diagnostic tests, refers patients to specialists as required and assists in surgery.
They do work that used to be done only by MDs, who have to study for more years to get a medical license and are paid more.
PAs in the US typically have master’s degrees and work in doctor’s offices, hospitals and other healthcare settings.
Demand for PAs in the US is expected to grow by an impressive 30 percent in the next decade. Their median annual salary in the US is $95,00, significantly more than the average Israeli doctor’s pay.
Here, the minimum requirement will be a bachelor’s degree in emergency medicine and passing a special licensing exam for PAs. Although there are numerous highly trained Jewish PAs abroad, the ministry has not planned for encouraging them to settle in Israel and receive an Israel PA license, but just to upgrade paramedics working for Magen David Adom and other rescue organizations.
Litzman sent his message for the opening of the third conference on health professions held at the college, which he praised as being “an outstanding academic institution serving the Galilee that will make it possible for graduates to “advance” to PAs.
Safed Academic College director- general Shmuel Har-Noy said that “this year, we are seeing a revolution in bolstering professional manpower in the hospitals. It will begin already at the end of this year with the first graduating class of PAs for hospitals around the country.”
He added that the program will help fill some of the 5,000 medical profession job slots that are waiting to be occupied.
Because of this demand, the college will increase its student body by 70% in the coming years, he said.
Prof. Haim Breitbart, president of the college, said that new medical technologies demand well-trained professionals, which are what the college is training – not only PAs but also nursing, physiotherapy, laboratory studies and emergency medicine.