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Episode 11: A Breakthrough Year for Physician Assistants
December 7, 2020

2020 will undoubtedly be remembered as a challenging year for Canada’s health care system. From hospital capacity challenges to the realities of staff burnout, all facets of the health sector have been impacted by COVID-19 in some shape or form. Despite a turbulent year, there are positive examples across the country of initiatives, successes and wins within our health care system.

Physician Assistants, who play an integral role in a strong and sustainable Canadian health care system, are one such example.

For years, Physician Assistants (PAs) have advocated to establish the profession within the national health care framework, and in October of this year, both Ontario and Alberta announced PAs will soon be regulated. Both regulation announcements are milestones for the profession itself and for PAs who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this episode, Patrick Nelson is joined by Sahand Ensafi and Kirsten Luomala to discuss PAs’ role in Canada’s health care system pre- and post-regulation.

Kirsten Luomala began her career in the Canadian Armed Forces as a medical technician and she eventually graduated from the inaugural PA degree class. In the following years, Kirsten taught in the Forces’ PA program and she completed her Master of PA studies in Education and ER medicine. Now, Kirsten works at Alberta’s Demonstration Project in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Alberta, and she is the Alberta Board Director for the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants.

Sahand Ensafi is a Certified Physician Assistant working in Emergency Medicine at the University Health Network in Toronto. As the inaugural PA at UHN, Sahand is a passionate advocate for the profession. He is a McMaster PA Graduate, a clinical instructor and Assistant Professor at McMaster, and is the Ontario Board Director for the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants.