State Representative, District 53
Bill will help rural healthcare with Physician's Assistants
By Ellen Wedum
Published in Mountain Monthly, March 2008, page 11
Physician's assistants will now be listed as medical providers in New Mexico law thanks to Representative Nate Cote.
House Bill 89 has been passed by both the House and the Senate as of Saturday February 9 and was signed by Governor
Bill Richardson on Feb 22. Physician assistants, or PA's, will now be authorized to act as principal care givers in rural clinics
where a physician is present only one or two days a week. (However, the physician must be available for consultation with the PA at all times, either in person or by phone.) Representative Cote told me "This is a big step forward in respecting the PA as a trained medical provider in this state." The bill was supported by the UNM Medical School and the PA association (web site www.aapa.org).
Physician assistants are one of the fastest-growing professions in the US. The admission standards are high, with basic biology and chemistry, human anatomy and physiology, general psychology and college algebra required as prerequisites. Many nurses, EMT's and paramedics apply to PA programs. The program itself usually consists of a year of coursework and a year of supervised clinical training.
For a young person who wishes to serve the rural community where he or she grew up, this is an excellent opportunity to remain in New Mexico and still earn a good salary. The PA's median annual income is about $70,000. Representative Cote represents mostly urban Las Cruces (and two precincts in Otero County), but he has demonstrated his dedication to all New Mexicans by coming up with a good idea and carrying it through with the hard work necessary to turn it into a good law.