Are you confused about different assistants? A good example of two health care providers that could not be more different-but might be confusing due to “assistant” being in the title-are Medical Assistant and Physician Assistant.

While these two in-demand health care professions sound an awful lot alike, they actually share very little in common when it comes to day-to-day tasks.
Medical Assistants handle a wide variety of entry level administrative and clinical tasks, whereas Physician Assistants are licensed health care providers who diagnose and treat patients under the supervision of a physician. Physician Assistants (PAS) work as part of teams in specialty settings, surgery suites or inpatient hospitals. PAS have extensive training, in many ways very similar to the training that doctors receive. PAS are held to the same standard of care as a physician.

Medical offices have a lot of staff but only one goal – helping you, the patient. Find a physician who supports shared decision-making. A partnership of patients and their physicians are at the core of improving care, quality, and safety.

Sheila Birnbaum’s professional career has been devoted to enhancing patient care. As the Director of the Patient Advocacy Program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH), Hamilton, NJ, she instituted numerous programs, many which received statewide recognition, including several prestigious rewards.