There are over 1 million hip and knee replacements performed in the U.S. per year and this number is expected to increase significantly over the next decade. There is a finite number of orthopedic surgeons trained to perform this kind of surgery, and that number is not increasing at a rate to keep up with demand. Physician assistants (PAs) are becoming a key part of the joint replacement care team. Jana one of our PAs has worked with me for over 12 years and is a great example of this evolving paradigm.
PAs are often the first person you will see in the evaluation process. They take a history, perform an exam and order X-Rays in order to diagnose your condition and outline a treatment plan. If surgery is indicated they will schedule surgery and begin the pre op process. In coordination with the orthopedic surgeon they will oversee this process which includes pre op optimization of your fitness and health, create a pre op plan for surgery and work with the facility to make sure all the necessary equipment is available for your procedure. They assist with surgery, manage your care in the hospital or surgery center and participate in your follow up care.
While the number of patients requiring surgery is increasing the time available to see all new and follow up patients is decreasing as surgeons are spending progressively more time in the operating room. PAs are enabling and partnering with orthopedic surgeons to keep up with the increased demand while maintaining or exceeding patient expectations. At times there will be push back about seeing PAs but in the case of our team the care delivered by Jana, Shane and Kelsey and their associates is excellent and allows us to keep up with the increasing demand for timely care. We could not function without the outstanding group of PAs and nurse practitioners we have the good fortune to work with.