2018 AAPA House of Delegate Report

1 month late is better than never?  Let’s get down to business! Here are some of the topics that I thought was really important at this year’s HOD meeting in New Orleans.

Ref Com B Recommendations:

2018-B-01 PAs Contribution to Healthcare
Amend policy as follows: AAPA discourages the use of terms such as midlevel providers, physician extenders, or any other terms that devalue PAS’ contribution to healthcare.

2018-B-02 APP and APC Definition
Amend policy as follows: PAs should encourage employers, third-party payers, educators, researchers, and the government to utilize the term “PA” or “physician assistant” to increase transparency and visibility of PAs throughout the healthcare system.

Why is this important? I do believe that as a profession, we need to be more transparent. We need to have the discussion with our employers, third-party payers, the community in general who we are. Branding is important…we’ll discuss this more in a bit.

2018-B-09 Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder
Amend policy as follows: AAPA supports and encourages awareness and recognition of professional burnout in all healthcare providers and education on the prevention of burnout. AAPA supports and encourages all healthcare providers to engage in a comprehensive multi-pronged strategy for prevention of professional burnout.

In recent news about the two celebrity deaths, I think this is an overall nationwide problem. But as providers, specifically, we need to better. We’re trained to look at things that are aberrant. If so — why are we missing clues that are in front of our faces? 
I encourage everyone to reach out to your friends, family members,  colleagues, and neighbors! Check in when you haven’t heard from them in awhile.

2018-B-14 Changing the Professional Title of Physician Assistants
The AAPA HOD requests that the Board of Directors contract with an independent marketing/PR firm to investigate the creation of a new professional title for physician assistants that accurately reflects these provider’s present and future utilization and practice abilities, reporting the results to the 2019 HOD.

Pro testimony included:

  •   This issue has been debated multiple times over the years; it is time to address this topic by having an unbiased entity collect objective data on realistic options
  •  The correlation between this investigation and the current optimal team practice policy was highlighted and is consistent with the evolution of the profession
  • This is a sound financial investment to further the profession and its reputation
  •  Other professions have changed their titles without negative sequelae
  •  There are adequate financial resources available at this time
  • Constituent organizations indicated their membership has been largely in favor of title change consideration
  •  ARC-PA, PAEA, NCCPA, and AAPA all agree to work together on this project

Now is the time! If we don’t make the move now to further investigate in the appropriate title change, it will only cost the academy more money in the future. Not only that, with the passing of Optimal Team Practice last year, now is the BEST time to focus on rebranding our title as our roles have changed to fit the modern healthcare system. My favorite example is, podiatrists were formerly known as ‘chiropodists.’

Again, I understand that many will argue and say that a name change isn’t necessary… but the title ‘assistant’ I believe still confuses the general population. This policy is not to vote whether or not we will go with a professional title change, but rather research the general consensus and have a better understanding of where majority feel with the title as well as the public’s opinion of the title.

2018-B-15:  Guidelines for State Regulation of PAs  – REJECTED
Some called this the anti-OTP policy. If you followed The Huddle online/PA Facebook Groups, you probably saw some heated debate on this topic! Ultimately, the policy was rejected. Here are some of the concerns con testimony:   

  • The proposed resolution does not further clarify OTP
  • Proposed changes may project indecisiveness and fragmentation within AAPA
  •  Physician organizations’ concerns will likely persist despite changing the policy language
  • Rural Health Association guidelines support OTP in its current form
  •  This policy is in its infancy and the impact is not yet determined; we should focus on the  implementation of the original policy before amending it
  • The resolution language conflicts with the defining characteristics of a profession
  • Existing OTP policy accurately reflects current PA practice
  • There was contradictory testimony regarding how well the OTP policy defines team practice.

2018- B-16: Opiate Use Disorder
Amend the policy as follows: AAPA supports PAs as vital members of the healthcare team in the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). AAPA further supports PAs being able to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of OUD and support equal education requirements and patient capitation for PAs and physicians.

Why is this important? We work together as a team with our collaborating docs. We are in an opioid epidemic, this should be a joint effort. PAs should be held to the same accountability and have the same requirements to prescribe and treat opioid use disorder.

2018-B-18:  Standards Requiring In-Person Instruction – REJECTED
AAPA supports standards to require that PA training programs provide at least 80% of didactic instruction as in-person or live lectures.

This was also another heated discussion in the house. I agree, I understand that with advancements in technology, online programs can be a great thing. Although, I think we need to better research this topic, it was hard to see that this policy got rejected in the house. For once, I was very disappointed to see that PA leaders/Board of Directors, educators.. we could not come to agreement of terms. I honestly believe we need to light some fire under those that represent the PA education to make sure that we protect the profession from saturation with online programs popping up. I’m sure this won’t be the last that we’ll here about this! 

  • ARC-PA testified that all programs have to be accredited by the ARC-PA, utilizing the same standards
  • There is lack of data to substantiate online programs as less effective than in-person programs
  • Advancements in technology have allowed numerous established PA programs to successfully utilize online curricula to varying degrees
  • Innovative teaching methods may allow for increased diversity of the profession and rural access to healthcare

Ref Com C Recommendations:

2018-C-01 Recognizing New PA Certifying Agencies
AAPA endorses the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) Certification exam as well as any exam that is recognized by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the AAPA House of Delegates, and the AAPA Board of Directors as valid entrance standards for PAs.

I am still on the fence about this one. Compared to our NP colleagues, they actually have 2 major certifying boards (ANCC and AANP). I’ve been told by a few NPs that one certifying board is supposedly easier than the others. Although I will say that I agree with the idea of having a standard for all students entering the workforce with a professional legitimacy, I’m just not keen on the idea of 1 certifying board monopolizing PA certifications.

2018C-13 Increasing PA Diversity
AAPA supports initiatives for increased funding for development and operation of PA programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Predominantly Black Institutions, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and Rural-Serving Institutions.

2014-C-14 Support for PA Student Federal Loan Limits
AAPA supports initiatives for increased federal loan limits to provide parity with loan limits available to other health care professional students.

 Both of these policies have a great impact on PA education for future students. As PAs, we need to continue to advocate to be culturally diverse. We also need to support students that have the desire to pursue higher education. My PA education costs me twice as much as it was for me to pursue my MPH. I’m sure as the competition to get into PA school continues, more students will follow pursuit and have additional degrees under their belts. For this reason, we need to do a better job to provide better opportunities for PA students rather than limiting the costs of loans.  

Kudos to the Student Delegation for working so hard!!! I am so inspired by the work and leadership of my fellow Student Delegates! I think we really made waves in the House this year. We certainly represented loudly and proudly this year. The number of testimonies we gave, the fact that we’ve accomplished and succeeded in passing 2 policies! *claps*

Applications to apply for the 2018-2019 Student Academy – AAPA House of Delegate will be made available in the fall!

Check out my previous posts on the responsibility/expectations of a student delegate and what it’s like in the HOD! Feel free to reach out if you have any additional questions about applying.

For more information on other HOD Recommendations, check out: AAPA


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