News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

February 9, 2012

PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS STAYING IN MANITOBA, PROVIDING PATIENT CARE, SUPPORTING HEALTH-CARE PROVIDERS: OSWALD


First-ever Training Program in Canada Successful at Retaining Physician Assistants: Selby

The vast majority of students graduating from the first-in-Canada physician-assistant masters training program have chosen to stay in Manitoba to use their valuable medical skills to care for patients in hospitals, clinics and other health-care settings across the province, Health Minister Theresa Oswald and Advanced Education and Literacy Minister Erin Selby announced today.

“Physician assistants play a pivotal role in providing quality health care to Manitobans. They are responsible for a wide range of important medical tasks and are an integral part of our plan to connect all Manitobans with accessible and timely health care,” said Oswald.  “In 2008, our government created the first physician-assistant graduate training program in Canada and now that the first classes have graduated, we are pleased to see nearly all of its members have chosen to stay and work in Manitoba.”

Manitoba invested $1.2 million to create the physician-assistant education program in September of 2008.  Of the 23 students who have graduated since the program began, 19 are currently working in Manitoba.  Another 24 students are currently enrolled in the program. 

Physician assistants are currently work in Dauphin, Portage la Prairie, MacGregor and Winnipeg in a variety of health-care settings including emergency departments, surgery, medical rehabilitation, family medicine and mental-health services.  Working collaboratively with a physician, they can conduct patient exams, order diagnostic tests, undertake minor procedures, and prescribe needed medications and treatments. 

“Health care requires a team approach and every person in the team is important,” Selby said.  “By ensuring that we train professionals for each part of the team, we are strengthening the entire system and improving health care for all Manitobans.”   

Every year, up to 12 candidates are accepted into this two-year faculty of medicine program at the University of Manitoba, which includes both lectures and clinical-care courses.  Graduates receive a master of physician assistant (PA) studies degree. 

“The University of Manitoba is proud to partner with the province as a leader in educating and training physician assistants in Canada's first master’s level PA education program.  Physician assistants improve health-care delivery in our province, benefiting all Manitobans, and are integral members of our inter-professional health teams,” said Dr. Brian Postl, dean, faculty of medicine, University of Manitoba.

Physician assistants were added to the Grace and Seven Oaks hospital emergency departments as part of the first pilot project of its kind in Canada to help improve patient care and provide faster access to emergency care.  The addition of physician assistants to the University of Manitoba Joint Replacement Group at Concordia Hospital allows twice the number of primary joint surgeries to be performed each day.

In August 2009, Manitoba became the first province in Canada to put legislation in place that allowed physician assistant students to become associate members of the provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons.  This provides students with the opportunity to provide hands-on patient care and offer valuable support to health-care practitioners and physicians, while being governed by the high standards of medical professionalism required by the college, Oswald said.

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