Last month, the AAPA Leadership and Advocacy Summit was held in Washington, DC. Our capital was amazingly beautiful as the blooming Japanese Cherry Trees adorned the famous monuments and museums. The Summit took place at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where the two central topics for debates were: Full Practice Authority and Responsibility (FPAR) and Recertification options beyond the NCCPA. Both topics led to lengthy discussions and were quite controversial. Due to their complexity, there is no single solution to either. Please visit the AAPA website to read about each at length, or join the Huddle, where many PAs ask questions and express their opinions.
Leaders from the AAPA and its constituent organizations gathered at The Summit on that cold weekend in March. It was immediately apparent that being proactive in this process is essential for PAs to create a secure and prosperous future for our profession. Both topics were presented by each responsible Committee and then all attendees had a chance to voice their opinions in the discussions. Health care presents many challenges and everyone agreed that unless we stay proactive and work with our government to enact visionary laws, we will be at risk to be replaced by other medical providers. Old laws and regulations make PAs vulnerable in the market where MDs and other healthcare providers may choose NPs over PAs. While it takes years to write and implement a law, it is as difficult and time consuming to replace one. The Leadership Summit presented all sides of a year long discussion on FPAR and are still in the process of refining it before it's final draft. At the end of the summit the conclusion was made that there are specific changes that need to be made. The majority agreed that the Physician/PA team is still the best relationship for both professions. Many PAs feel that eliminating the State Supervision Regulation would give us a better position in the job market, since some physicians and Hospitals are less likely to hire PAs because of perceived burden of supervision and responsibility. Some PAs feel that they need physician supervision and some don't, which is understandable, based on experience and specialty. Knowledge comes with education and experience, but everyone may not feel comfortable and secure working autonomously. The Joint Task Force is now in the final stages of information gathering from surveys, forum discussions and the Leadership Summit. The AAPA FPAR Task Force plans to present the final proposal at the House of Delegates (HOD) meeting this May in Las Vegas at the AAPA Conference.
Another topic of heated discussion is the NCCPA and its role in Physician Assistant Recertification. Recently the NCCPA has become a centralized topic as they have lobbied in several States against legislature that will advance the PA profession. Their effort is in response to a section of each of these Bills that removes the requirement for Recertification as part of the State's PA Practice Act. After years of listening to their members' concerns, the AAPA has drafted a proposal to start their own Recertification Board that could be implemented over 7 years. At the Summit, the opinions were split: some felt that the NCCPA does not have the best intentions for practicing PAs, and that we need to disassociate from the NCCPA and start a new recertifying body in order to protect and promote the profession. Other PAs felt that creating a new recertification process meant spending a lot of time and money without any guarantee that it would be much different from the NCCPA. Workshops at The Summit challenged PA leaders to identify the pros and cons of this concept. It is now up to a Committee to gather all information and present a proposal to the HOD on whether we should work with the NCCPA to make the changes that the majority of Physician Assistants want or start a new Certifying Board.
Ultimately, the take home message from The Summit was that it takes every single PA to move us forward. We all need to get involved and help our Leaders to make decisions that keep our profession growing bigger and stronger. Please join us at our Annual APSPA Meeting in Las Vegas on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 6pm at Mandalay Bay South Convention Center, Level 2, Room name:Reef A to network and help us promote Plastic Surgery PAs to the AAPA HOD.