Physician assistants to be recognized as regulated health-care professionals

Provincial Press Release November 27, 2020 @ 11:32am published 11:37am.

Physician assistants will be recognized as regulated health-care professionals beginning April 1, 2021.


A physician assistant works under the supervision of a physician to provide medical care, as well as complete standard assessments and other routine medical processes.

Regulating the profession means that physician assistants will adhere to standards for competency, safety and ethics like other regulated health professionals in the province. It ensures they are accountable for the care they provide and the public is protected.

“It’s fitting that we recognize National Physician Assistant Day by celebrating the value and importance of physician assistants and the skills and knowledge they provide Albertans. The government made a commitment to build a patient-centred health system in our province and physician assistants can help us to achieve that goal.” Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“Physician assistants have been part of health-care teams in the Canadian Armed Forces for many years. The Alberta government can build upon this successful model.” Brad Rutherford, MLA for Leduc-Beaumont and liaison to the Canadian Armed Forces

The support provided by a physician assistant frees a physician to spend more time with patients, particularly those with more complex health concerns. Having a physician assistant complete an initial assessment and provide routine services enables the physician to focus on critical issues.

“Physician assistants have a long history of providing high-quality care to patients under the supervision of a physician. CPSA is proud to welcome them as the newest regulated member of Alberta’s health-care team.” Dr. Scott McLeod, registrar, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta

Regulating physician assistants also enables these health professionals to work to their full scope of practice and allows the health system to use their skills in a greater capacity. “Alberta's PAs applaud the government for taking this important step so quickly. This change will allow us to work to our full scope, strengthen team-based care, improve access to care for Alberta patients and decrease costs.” Kirsten Luomala, director, Alberta, Canadian Association of Physician Assistants

“Adding a physician assistant to the health-care team is like adding a top six forward to your hockey team. It gives the team more depth and capability and spreads out the workload.” Dr. Neil Gibson, associate zone medical director, Acute Care Coverage, Edmonton Zone, Alberta Health Services

Quick facts

  • The responsibilities of a physician assistant may include conducting patient interviews, histories and physical examinations; diagnosing and treating illnesses; performing selected diagnostic and therapeutic interventions or procedures; and counselling patients.

  • The requirements for entry to practise for physician assistants include graduation from a program of studies for physician assistants approved by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, and successful completion of a registration examination approved by the college. Their education includes clinical training in areas such as emergency medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, orthopedics, sports medicine, general surgery, anesthesia, trauma and family medicine.

  • Physician assistants will be regulated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. There are currently 60 physician assistants on the college’s voluntary register.

  • In 2013, Alberta Health Services conducted a physician assistant demonstration project to evaluate their contributions to health-care teams.

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