Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
The profession of physicians' assistant was introduced in the 1960s to assist with physician shortages in the United States of America. Since then, some countries have introduced this profession to fill the gaps that exist in the physician shortages problem in their health care system. Yet, in many countries like Trinidad and Tobago, this role remains absent from the health care system. The objective of this study was to assess how professionalization supports the introduction of the physicians' assistant role in Trinidad and Tobago. Using the theory of profession as a theoretical framework, and through an evaluation of institutional, regulatory, and cultural norms and barriers associated with the health care system of Trinidad and Tobago, the role of jurisdiction, societal factors, professional competition, and legitimization was assessed using a qualitative, ethnographic design, with 22 participants. The data collection tools included a questionnaire and structured interview and content analysis of relevant documents to yield the data from which conclusions may be drawn. The results showed that jurisdiction, societal changes, interprofessional competition and legitimization can all influence the introduction of physicians' assistants. Evidence from this research may provide health care administrators with important information to assess the feasibility of the introduction of this vital role to improve patient care on the islands.