Health care in Ghana is a fundamental right that every citizen is entitled to. This is according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 which was stipulated by the United Nations. In Ghana, the people tasked with providing health care are the Physician assistants. This piece will look at Physician Assistant salary in Ghana, their roles, and also the history behind the profession in Ghana.
Brief history of Physician Assistants in Ghana
A Physician Assistant is an individual who is tasked with providing health care services to patients but it is usually under the supervision of a physician or a qualified surgeon.
In Ghana, the training of Physician Assistants can be traced back to the mid-60s. During this time, the training was meant to give the trainees the necessary skills to enable them to cater for certain specific purposes and the training was controlled by the ministry of health.it was done on an ad-hoc basis.
Later on, the demand for Physician Assistants became increasingly high. There was an acute shortage of trained Physician Assistants and the few that were available were not equally distributed across the country. For this reason, an institution was established at Kintampo. It was the first of its kind to be set up by the Ministry of Health. It was called the Rural Health Training School and it was used to train health professionals with an aim of distributing them to the areas that were affected by the shortage of qualified health professionals, especially the remote areas of the country. The training offered was specifically structured to enable them work as clinicians in the different health centers across the country. The title given to them was that of “health superintendents”.
The current position of Physician Assistants in Ghana
Physician Assistants are now diverse since there are different categories of professions under one umbrella. The categories of Physician assistants are as follows:
- Medical Physician Assistants
- Dental practitioner Physician Assistants
- Nurse Anesthetists Physician Assistants
The practice has grown significantly since its inception in the Rural Health Training School which is now known as College of Health and Well-Being. This is the only public institution that trains physician assistants in Ghana and offers a higher diploma for the same. This does not exactly mean that there are few trained in this field since there are other private institutions that offer training for physician assistants. They are;
- Narth-Bita College in Tema
- Central University College in Accra
- Presbyterian University College in Ashanti
Who is qualified to be a Physician Assistant in Ghana?
Before you go into the details, you must first know who is qualified to work as a physician assistant In Ghana, one will only be allowed to work as a physician assistant if they have the following qualifications;
- If they have completed their study as a Physician Assistant and graduated from a recognized institution.
- If after their studies, they have been registered by the Medical and Dental Council . This body has been tasked to set the standards of medical practitioners in Ghana.
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What does the job of Physician Assistant entail?
So, how is the work environment of a physician assistant?
The Physician Assistant profession is one that is not centralized. This means that people are posted to different parts of the country. This leads to people working in different environments with different people and therefore as a Physician Assistant, you are required to be flexible in that you can work in different parts.
The schedules of a Physician Assistant vary from one person to the other. It varies with the place one works, the shifts you have to work and the patients the institution you are working in admits every day. So, if it is a busy place, your schedule will be tight. Physician Assistant pay in Ghana varies with the employer. However, the starting salary for physician assistants is the same across the board.
So, what are the roles attached to the practice of a physician assistant?
- They are generally trained to fit in the medical field as one of the important health care service providers.
- A physician assistant is charged with performing health care assistant services to patients, but it should be strictly under the supervision of either a qualified physician or a qualified surgeon.
- In their work, they is given the responsibility of diagnosing patients and providing medical advice and prescribing medicine while at the same time can offer therapeutic assistance to patients.
- Their work also involves trying to educate people on health related issues in areas they are posted.
- They are tasked with engaging in administration and engage in research in their specific areas of practice. They are trained to improve the health sector and research is one of the ways you use to help in providing health data for the country.
- They are tasked with providing the information they gather to the public and the fellow health practitioners. This ensures the research they undertake is useful.
- They are major players in ensuring that the revenues collected in the health institutions are accounted for. They are therefore given an overseer role in the various centers they are posted in.
What is the difference between a Medical Assistant and a Physician Assistant?
A Medical Assistant can be easily confused with a Physician Assistant. However, the two are not the same. On one hand, Medical Assistants are mainly involved in assisting the medical practitioners in their offices acting as clerks and performing more of administrative functions other than medicine-related practices. Physician Assistants are simply medical practitioners and not just administrative assistants. Also, the salary of a Physician Assistant in Ghana and that of a Medical Assistant are not even similar. Physician assistant program in Ghana s also different.
What you need to know about Physician Assistant posting
Physician Assistant posting is when fresh graduates are posted to different areas of the country. They are offered a one year internship program to work under supervision of the professionals. However, unlike their fellow medical counterparts, the salary of a Physician Assistant in Ghana who is posted as interns is non-existent, they offer free internship. Nevertheless, there have been several attempts to remedy this situation by trying to lobby the government to start paying them for internships. The reasons given were that they do a bulk of the work and should be compensated for that.
In 2017, a group of graduates took to the offices of the Ministry of Health to demand they be posted. This is an indication of the problem that has arisen where several youths completed the Physician Assistant training but are still unemployed.
Who employs physician assistants?
Once you have completed the physician assistant program in Ghana, you are eligible to be employed by any person or organization in any part of the country. However, this does not mean just anybody can employ you since you can only work under the supervision of a physician or a qualified surgeon.
Physician Assistant salary in Ghana 2018
You are probably wondering; how much is a physician assistant salary. Based on a recent headline, a Physician assistant’s minimum salary is 1800 Ghana Cedis; however, this information is not reliable. This is low when compared to the minimum salary of medical doctors in Ghana which according to a 2015 update, stands at roughly over 3,000 Ghana Cedis; nevertheless, this information is not reliable either. The minimum pay requirement means that no one is allowed to pay a physician assistant less than that amount regardless of the number of years of experience they have. There is no accurate up to date information on the physician assistant salary in Ghana.