For the past year we have had physician assistants in the emergency room where I work. It hasn't gone well.
They see every kind of patient except mental health patients. Mostly they have worked in the main ER (non urgent care). I know they work well in some ERs but after working with them for a year, I don't think they belong in the emergency room taking care of non urgent care patients.
In this day and age, ERs have changed. They are no longer seeing fractures, lacerations and simple illness. We see acutely ill, complicated patients. The acuity in ERs has gone way up. I really don't think PAs are up to seeing these kinds of patients. I think they should be seen by docs. I think patients in the ER expect to be seen by docs.
Physician assistants have a bachelors degree. I'm sure the classes they take are pre med type classes. They don't have to have a major in a science as I understand it. They then go to a 2 or 3 year program where they are trained in the "medical model" of medicine.
Two or three years isn't much to be caring for acutely ill, complicated patients. To be honest, they make me nervous as a nurse. I don't trust them like I do the docs. Working with them feels like working with 1st year residents. You always have to be on your guard with them. Docs supervise them, but they are ordering stuff before they talk to the doc.
I think if ERs are going to hire non doctors they would be better off hiring NPs. NPs have a degree in nursing, they have worked in a medical environment. The thing is the reimbursement is less for NPs.
This whole thing has made our ER harder to work in. No one likes it. It has impacted patient care negatively.