The chairmen of departments of surgery in general hospitals with more than 400 beds were surveyed to assess their current and projected use of surgical physician assistants. Of the 552 insitutions represented in our survey, surgical physician assistants were working in one-third, providing preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative care. Two-thirds of the chairmen felt that the introduction of physician assistants had improved surgical patient care in their institutions. In institutions with surgical housestaff, almost half the chairmen felt that surgical physician assistants had improved the quality of residency training. During the next five years an increase of 87% in the number of surgical physician assistants is projected by respondents. We conclude that appropriately trained and supervised surgical physician assistants will play an increasingly important role in improving the care of surgical patients and, by functioning as junior housestaff, make it possible to reduce the number of surgeons being trained.
ASJC Scopus subject areas