A day in the life of a Student Delegate

I am so privileged to return to the AAPA House as a student delegate for the Student Academy for a second year.


IMG_7406Last year I had the honor of sitting on the House floor and voting for one of the biggest legislation in PA history, Optimal Team Practice/OTP. I knew there was more work that needed to be done and I wanted to continue the great work that we started. We are in a pivotal state in the PA profession and I wanted to do my part to move the profession forward.

Thanks to OTP, here are some stats to illustrate how PA practice have improved since last year!

Nearly half of all states have improved their scope of practice:

  • 10 states have plans to introduce new legislation in 2019, and many more will follow
  • 13 states now have full prescriptive authority (44 states)
  • 9 states now have their scope of practice determined at their site (38 states)
  • 13 states have adaptable collaboration/supervision requirements (30 states)
  • Charting co-signature requirements determined at practice (32 states)
  • 4 states have moved away and no longer have a PA:Physician ratio restriction (14 states)

I will write a more detailed post, once we get the final recommendations on some of the resolutions that have passed in the House this year. This post will focus mainly on the details of becoming a Student Delegate and a play-by-play on how things go down in the House at AAPA!

So first off, what is the House of Delegates (HOD)?

  • The House of Delegates (HOD) has sole authority on behalf of AAPA to enact policies establishing the collective values, philosophies, and principles of the PA profession. The HOD consists of voting delegates from:
  • Fifty-seven chapters representing 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and five federal services
  • Twenty-six officially recognized specialty organizations
  • Eight caucuses comprised of individuals sharing a common goal or interest related to healthcare access or delivery
  • The Student Academy (We are the largest voting body in the entire House, comprised of 16 SEATS!)
  • In addition, the current and immediate past House officers are delegates-at-large and vote

What are issues and policies address by the HOD?

  • Innovative healthcare delivery models
  • Medicare coverage
  • PA privileges
  • Health promotion and disease prevention
  • Medical liability reform
  • Leadership excellence

Why become a delegate?
Naturally, my background in public health/policy was a no brainer as to why I wanted to get involved in legislation. But simply my motivation behind all of this can easily be summarized as: improving access and care to patients.


How do I become a student delegate?

Applications are typically available in the Fall (stay tuned for a post made on FB around August –I’ll also send out a reminder when the time comes). You will be asked to write a few short essays stating your interests, share prior policy/legislative experiences and why you’re an ideal delegate. Note, you will have to be academically cleared by your PA program director!

What are the commitment as a student delegate?

  • A few conference calls (maybe once a month) leading up to the AAPA conference
  • Review pre-meeting materials
  • Be enthusiastic about learning about HOD and AAPA leadership opportunities

What are my assignments?
Typically, there are more delegates than actual seats to vote on the floor. On average, there will be anywhere between 20-25 students selected to represent the 16 Student Delegate seats.

There are 3 reference committees that varies but are grouped in some similar fashion as described below:

  • Reference Committee A: Generally applies to the governing body/membership, statutes bylaws of AAPA
  • Reference Committee B: Scope of practice, general population health
  • Reference Committee C: PA education, Certification..additional considerations that affect PA practice

You will more than likely be assigned 2/3 reference committees and serve as an alternate for the third committee.

When your Reference Committee is in session, you will be seated on the floor to listen to testimonies/vote. Otherwise, you will be asked to sit in the back of the room or be on standby if someone needs to leave for a conference session/restroom break.

Great! You’ve made it to AAPA, now what?
Unfortunately, I’ve really had to miss out on AAPA conference the past 2 years as my time was spent almost entirely in the house.

Here is what my schedule looked like:


  • Day 0/night before: Student HOD meeting live in person to address last minute issues
  • Day 1: Orientation(8:00), General Session I (9:00-12:00), Break for lunch, HOD Ref Com Hearings (1:00-6:30)
  • Day 2: HOD Ref Com Hearings Cont’d (8:00-11:30), Break for lunch, HOD Ref Com Hearings Cont’d (1:45-3:45), possibly another 1.5 HOD Ref Com Hearings if there is still a lot to be discussed
  • Day 3: HOD General Session II AKA VOTING DAY!

FYI: Anyone that is an AAPA member is welcome to sit in just the first 2 day of hearings. In fact, it’s encouraged and you’re welcome to give testimony on any issue(s) that you may have!

How does voting in the house work?


The final day is very crazy! The floor is sealed at 8:00. At this point in time, only delegates and those assisting in the process are allowed to be in the room. Since numbers are very important, each Delegate will be given a pass that you must keep with you when you’re on the floor.

Voting is done so with an electronic remote/iClicker. The Reference Chair will read off the proposed resolution and the committee’s recommendations. The process is typically moves quickly, but for some of the more heated debates, it can take up to 2 hours before a final decision can be reached.

Overall thoughts…

The fact that I’ve committed for 2 years, either means I’m delusional or it’s actually really fun and inspiring to be surrounded by such great leaders that are working hard to better the profession!

I’m not sure if I’ll have the opportunity to return as a delegate next year. My hope is to either return as a delegate for Florida or represent the Otolaryngology Caucus. I guess only time will tell!

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