I currently work for an addictions medicine clinic group in the national capital region. I was fortunate enough to find this group through networking within the area with a colleague from prior work. I do quite a bit of PA advocacy in the region and I am constantly looking to introduce the profession into new clinics and settings.
The clinic itself primarily focuses on addictions medicine for lower socioeconomic status and low-income individuals. While the clinic acted as a centre of excellence for addictions care, they were eager to expand their services provided by the clinic and help more people in need. One of their community goals was to provide a “one door” model of care for their clients. After some digging, one of the largest gaps in care for their patient population was in accessing Primary Care.
The managing partner of the clinic and its physicians quickly came on board for adding a Physician Assistant to the clinic to help reduce this gap. While they were initially looking for a different type of advanced practice provider, they found that the Physician Assistant training, scope and model of care was more fitting for their needs. Funding applications were quickly adjusted to account for the new position and submitted to the government for approval. I am very excited to say that I am currently running the Primary Care Program for the clinic. While the focus is primary care, the PA also works to manage overflow from the addictions medicine clinic as well. We have seen a great response from the patients with increasing access, increased routine screening and a decrease in hospitalization visits. The clinic itself is expanding in number with more openings in 2021. Due to the great response, our plan is to add more PAs to the other centres as well.
It was a big move to make during the middle of a pandemic. Everything from the setting, specialty, patient population and barriers to care changed in an instant. This was accompanied by the increased risk of contracting COVID-19 with this group. It was a lot to work through when I first started, but I can safely say I couldn’t be happier in this position. There is such a big need for more professionals working with this patient group and it’s by far the most fulfilling job I have ever held. I am excited to see the profession grow in addictions medicine in the future!