Physician Assistant – an Answer to the Shortage of Family Physicians in Germany?

DOI: 10.3238/zfa.2020.0252-0256

german translation / full article

Sannam Iqbal-Ochs, Uwe Popert

Keywords: medical assistant physician assistant shortage of family physicians

BackgroundFor Germany, the Physician Assistant (PA) is a new profession in the field of medicine, which is supposed to compensate the shortage of physicians by taking over delegable medical tasks. The aim of this research is to provide an overview of the postgraduate study course, its contents and the operational area of the PA in Germany.Methods We analyzed the homepages of the relevant universities and colleges that train PAs. Then, semi-structured interviews with responsible course administrators were conducted. We compared the curricula of the PA and the pre- and postgraduate education for nurses.Results At the time of the interviews (in April 2019), eight colleges and academies at 15 different locations offered a postgraduate study course for PA with approximately 600 college places. Most participants undertake the training parallel to their professional work. The duration of study is six semesters and the tuition fee is between 14.000 and 28.800 Euro. Course schedules have currently a focus on inpatient health care. Consequently, the approximately 450 PA in Germany are almost exclusively employed in the inpatient health care sector.ConclusionsTo fight the increasing lack of primary care physicians in Germany, a practical postgraduate education of some of the existing 299.000 qualified nurses seems reasonable. Course schedules for primary care PAs should be developed. For the next future, however, primary care PA can neither be a single nor preferred substitute for the missing family physicians.Keywordsphysician assistant; shortage of family physicians; medical assistant

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