Section 80
Chapter 79,267

What is the contribution of physician assistants to health care in Germany? a differentiation between physician assistants and physicians in training

Meyer-Treschan, T.; Busch, D.ör.; Farhan, N.; Führmann, B.; Siegmüller, J.; Heistermann, P.

Zeitschrift für Evidenz Fortbildung und Qualitat Im Gesundheitswesen 164: 15-22


ISSN/ISBN: 2212-0289
PMID: 34246580
DOI: 10.1016/j.zefq.2021.05.006
Accession: 079266570

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Physicians in training are major contributors to the German health care system. After graduation from medical school, physicians in training qualify for a certain specialty. The workload of physicians in training in Germany is so high that they have expressed their need for support. One opportunity to support physicians in training is by delegating tasks to physician assistants (medical assistants qualified by a specific course of study, graduated from universities of applied sciences). However, there is a lack of knowledge about the qualification of physician assistants and the conditions which allow support of physicians in training by physician assistants in Germany. Based on a focused internet search, this paper describes the development of the profession physician assistance in Germany and the currently offered graduation courses including their duration and qualification requirements. Furthermore, we present available recommendations for the content of physician assistants' education and characterize conditions for the support of physicians in training by physician assistants. In Germany, physician assistance has been an academic discipline since 2005, the profession is, however, still quite seldom. Qualification requirements and the duration of education are determined by the universities. The aim is to qualify students for several competencies, which enable physician assistants to perform tasks of physicians under delegation. The conditions for delegation to physicians in training and to physician assistants are quite similar, resulting in partly comparable practice. Major differences relate to the so called "physician reservation" or physicians' core area, both of which define tasks that may only be carried out by physicians. Integrating physician assistants into a medical team means supporting the specialists by delegating tasks, thus reducing the workload of all physicians in the team, including physicians in training. Currently, there are no data on and no outcomes of the performance of physician assistants in Germany. In everyday practice, health care delivered by physician assistants and by physicians in training is similar, at least as regards activities and tasks that do not need physician supervision.

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