Mississippi’s health care system has been improving for several decades now, but rural parts of the state have, not surprisingly, posed greater challenges when it comes to providing even the most basic of health care.
A new law signed by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove last week which allows physicians assistants to practice throughout Mississippi, instead of being limited to federal hospitals, nursing homes and prisons, should help address the health care personnel problem in rural Mississippi. It will also enhance service in urban areas where many doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners are stretched thin.
“This action by the governor and the state Legislature will mean improved access to quality medical services provided by physician-PA teams,” said Murl Dotson, PA-C, president of the Mississippi Academy of Physician Assistants (MAPA).
The new law came about after years of wrangling between PAs and nurses, and finally, was passed by this session in large part because of compromise between MAPA and the Mississippi Nurses Association.
The legislation also had the support of a wide range of health care associations including the Mississippi State Medical Association, the Mississippi Hospital Association and the Mississippi Primary Health Care Association. Under the PA law, the state medical licensing board will have the authority to license physician assistants and regulate their practice.
The passage of this legislation is an excellent example of how persistence, hard work and compromise can benefit us all, and perhaps most important, benefit those Mississippians in desperate need of medical attention.