KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – More than 60 students and staff from two Knoxville physician assistant programs are headed to Nashville on Wednesday to rally behind a piece of legislation that would expand the scope of practice for physician assistants.

Students from Lincoln Memorial University and South College will join hundreds of other students and physician assistants to encourage the passage of Senate Bill 1171/ House Bill 1272. The legislation would expand the scope of what physician assistants can practice by updating oversight and regulations.

“Essentially what this allows us to do is really get into the full spectrum of what we are capable of,” Rachel Enigk, staff for South College’s Physician Assistant Program.

Supporters of the bill believe it would modernize physician assistant regulations. “The law has not really been updated regarding practice since 1999,” Enigk said. “It’s a little bit archaic in terms of the extent of our education and the things that PA’s get trained by physician to do.”

Advocates say the legislation would help address the health care worker shortage in the state and give health care teams greater flexibility to meet patients needs.

“Due to the current regulations that are in place for physician assistants, patients aren’t always able to receive the best care. “If someone is from a rural community it might take them an hour, two hours to get to any physician for something as small as a cold or as large as a fracture,” Clark said.

Supporters of the bill believe if signed into law it would close the health care gap for people no matter where they live. “It would allow PAs to practice or open their own practices in rural communities,” Enigk said. “It would let them see more types of patients in urban communities. “

“We’re going to be talking to legislators, pushing PA legislation that will hopefully modernize us to be more impactful in the communities that we serve,” South College Physician Assistant student Nicholas Clark said.