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Lake Regional Celebrates Physician Assistant Week

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

A physician assistant (PA) is an essential health care provider, and during PA week, Oct. 6-12, Lake Regional Health System recognizes their valuable contributions in providing exceptional care to patients.

“PAs are collaborative and versatile medical professionals who improve health care access and quality,” said Michael Burcham, vice president of Lake Regional Physician Practices. “Our PAs are an integral part of our team at Lake Regional, and we are grateful for the value they add to our organization and community.”

Don’t be misled by their title: PAs are not assistants to physicians. These licensed medical experts can examine, diagnose and treat patients, as well as prescribe medicine. And while they collaborate with doctors, PAs can see patients on their own in a variety of health care settings. In some clinics, PAs are the primary care providers you see on a regular basis. Some even specialize –– for instance, in family medicine, emergency medicine, orthopedics or surgery.

Their specific duties can depend on where they practice, their specialty, state laws and other factors. But in general, PAs in Missouri can:

  • Do physical exams.
  • Diagnose and treat diseases and injuries.
  • Order and interpret X-rays, bloodwork or other medical tests.
  • Create treatment plans.
  • Talk to you about ways to stay healthy or manage a chronic disease.
  • Assist in surgery.

PAs have a solid medical education. Their background includes a master's degree, state licensing and extensive clinical training. And to maintain their certification, PAs must complete continued medical education.

The PA profession was established in 1967 and has grown gradually during the last 50 years. Today, there are approximately 150,000 PAs throughout the United States. Lake Regional Health System has 12 PAs located in the Cancer Center, Express Care, Emergency Medicine, Gastroenterology and Orthopedics.

Lake Regional Health System provides comprehensive health care services to residents and visitors throughout the mid-Missouri region. The hospital is a Level II Stroke Center, Level II STEMI (heart attack) Center and Level III Trauma Center. Lake Regional also provides a wide range of specialties, including cancer care, heart care, orthopedics and women’s health. Plus, Lake Regional operates primary care clinics, Express Care clinics, rehab therapy clinics, programs for home health and hospice, and retail pharmacies. To learn more, visit