Improving patient flow with a smile

Physician Assistants (PAs) play a crucial role in patient care at Horizon’s Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital (DECRH) in Fredericton. They work as part of the Emergency Department’s (ED) multidisciplinary team to provide safe and quality care to patients.

PAs assess patients, order tests or review results with the patient, prescribe medications and help implement a recovery plan.

“We’re able to offload a lot of patient care from physicians and improve patient flow and patient’s access to care,” said Kevin Dickson, PA and president of the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA).

Patient flow and access to services are two key areas Horizon has committed to improving, along with retention and recruitment and improving patient experience. We are able to do this with the help of Ryan Bennett and Kevin the two PAs at the DECRH. To continue our work in these areas, an additional PA will be joining the team in late September.

The role of PAs came about during the Second World War and has since grown to expand outside of the military. Currently, PAs practice in four provinces: Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick (NB). Nova Scotia began a pilot project in 2019. According to the CAPA website, there are approximately 800 PAs practicing in Canada.

Both Kevin and Ryan enjoy being part of the team at the DECRH.

“I enjoy the patient encounter and hopefully having the ability to make a change for the better for the patient and their families,” said Ryan. “I enjoy working at the DERCH because of the variety of patient pathologies that present, the collegiality of my colleagues, and the ability to live in a great city.”

Ryan lived in Saint John before attending school to become a PA. He always wanted to return to NB so when the opportunity arose, he jumped at the chance to move back to the East Coast. Kevin moved here while he was working as a medic in the armed forces. His wife and her family are from the area, which he has grown to love.

PAs have been an important resource and have significantly helped improve patient flow as we deal with the current strains on the health care system. We are fortunate to have a dedicated team of PAs at the DECRH.

Reducing wait times

An objective in Horizon’s Strategic Plan 2021-2026 is to reduce wait times throughout our system. A fundamental aspect of providing quality care is ensuring patients and clients have access to the health care services they need within a reasonable timeframe. The Physician Assistants (PA) at Horizon’s Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton are doing just that in the Emergency Department, which is why we are adding a third PA to support this ongoing effort.