Two new Physician Assistants recruited to Swan River
Physician Assistants (PAs) are healthcare professionals who practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. They complement existing services and aid in improving patient access. Recently, National Physician Assistant (PA) day was recognized. Prairie Mountain Health also acknowledges and says “thank you” to its Physician Assistants who work in our region and are based in Brandon, Dauphin and Swan River. PMH continues recruiting for these professionals with the recent addition of two new Physician Assistants in Swan River. Even more exciting is that one of the new PAs, Charnae Betcher, a Swan River resident, is returning to her home community to work.
Betcher graduated with a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) from the University of Manitoba (UM) in October. Based out of the department of family medicine, Max Rady College of Medicine, the UM MPAS program has recently started its 15th year. Of the three PA programs in Canada, UM is the only one to offer the program at a master’s level. MPAS is a highly competitive program, with over 150 applicants vying for just 15 spots. Beginning in early December, Charnae will be located at the Swan Valley Primary Care Centre (SVPCC )as part of the My Health Team initiative.
“I am grateful to return to Swan River and serve the community where I grew up,” Betcher said.
“ I hope to contribute to enhancing local health care as a PA by working collaboratively to improve access to healthcare services, patient outcomes and quality of life.”
Fellow recruit James Awuah will be based at the Swan Valley Health Centre. Awuah, who started in mid-November, comes to the Region from South Dakota, USA. He currently lives in Regina, SK., with his family. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 2018. He had been practicing emergency medicine and family medicine at critical access hospitals in North Dakota and South Dakota until he joined SVHC.
“I am very excited to be part of a team that continues to make a positive impact in the lives of community members,” Awuah stated.
“I am thrilled to continue to promote life and good health to the people I come across daily as a Physician Assistant. The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Swan Valley Primary Care Centre physician Dr. Leah Koetting says health care is a team effort and Physician Assistants have a vital role.
“By working alongside physicians in hospital rounds, the clinic, and the emergency department, they ensure more patients are seen and treated in a timely manner.”
According to the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants, the introduction of PAs into the country began within the Canadian Armed Forces in the 1950s. Manitoba was the first province to introduce PAs into the healthcare system in 1999, and today, approximately 800 certified PAs are practicing in Canada—with over 500 in Ontario. As of December 2022, there will be 10 PAs practicing within PMH in Brandon, Dauphin and Swan River.
A Physician Assistant has the skills and experience to deal with medical emergencies, specialty practice environments, and everyday healthcare needs. The PA is a physician extender and not an independent practitioner; they work under the direction of supervising physicians within the client/patient-centered care team. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs can:
- conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests.
- counsel on preventive health care.
- assist in surgery, and write prescriptions.
- Participate in education, research and provide some administrative services.
In Brandon, some PAs assist in general and specialist surgery along with areas like kidney disease and the renal unit. In Dauphin, the two PAs undertake different responsibilities —one works within the surgery program and the other within primary care.
Prairie Mountain Health CEO Brian Schoonbaert says the region continues to look at ways to increase the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals.
“PMH has hired more Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Assistants to expand primary care availability. We continue to meet with our stakeholders and partners to review challenges and discuss potential solutions to health human resource shortages that the rest of the province and country face now.”
Schoonbaert sincerely thanks all PMH staff for their continued efforts to provide patient care during this challenging period in the healthcare system. He adds the region remains committed to exhausting all available options to address these challenges.