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Association of Plastic Surgery Physician Assistants
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AAPA Leadership Advocate Summit, Washington DC, March 2018th

Posted 7 months ago by Inessa Shlifer

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    In March of this year leaders of AAPA Constituent Organizations met in Washington DC to discuss important topics. Once again, the attendance at AAPA Leadership Summit had a great turnover. The meeting was well attended. We had 191 Advocates and 50 Students attending the summit, that represented 40 states. Just to mention- the North Easter did not stop anyone from coming to DC- some PA’s had to stay overnight at their destinations before weather allowed them to continue on their way to Washington DC. That’s how important the summit is for our profession.

   The first day started off with two important Speakers. Congressman Chris Collins, NY, R. and Earl Blumenauer, OR, D. Both congressman shared their experience of working on Capital Hill and the work they do to move legislative bills from draft to passing after the partisan vote. They congratulated AAPA on big Hospice win. The new law permits PA’s to provide Hospice Care to Medicare patients. Another big win is allowing PA’s to supervise cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs. They both believe that the time for PA’s to gain control and position themselves strategically came. Earl Blumenauer believes that most politicians will welcome the legislation on cardiac care to grant more authonomy to PA’s. We as profession will be giving a solution to minimize bureaucracy and let patients to receive care from PA’s- to sign diabetic shoes prescription to patients. We are looking to improve care to patients, it’s accessibility, quality and personal touch. We have more time spent per patient and listen better to them. Patients know about us, they like to be seen by us and after initial appointment they become our patients.

    We were coached by professional legislative body on how to present our agenda to members of Congress and Senate. We were given folders with information pertinent to topics and specific to each state and district to ensure productive meeting with those who will be involved in decision making process. The two important legislative topics were: Home Health Care Planning and Access to Diabetic Shoes. Current laws are not beneficial to patients and simply need to be reassessed and changed. It seems that AAPA has a good chance to win these two legislations and have a great positive outcome for all patients in need to benefit.

   This was my first encounter with House members and I noticed that office Staffers for the most part young Fellows. They are knowledgeable and very polite. They listen to you and willing to learn as much as they need to present the topic to their superiors- which for us, New Yorkers, were Kristen Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer. We did not see them personally and as we were told, it’s unlikely we would. But the Staffers work hard enough to gather all needed information from us to delegate it to their superiors. Staffers made us feel comfortable, they seemed interested in agenda,  they knew what PA profession means and what we do as a health care providers.

    AAPA has a professional legislative body that works on our behave, help us to take unnecessary restrictions down and extend borders for our practice. It takes a long time and a lot of effort to move legislative bills into law and we are thankful for all they do to keep us practicing at it’s full capacity. 

     We had some very bright PA’s sharing their experience on how to help PA’s in their states, how to stay proactive and keep Medical Practices running. Many of medical offices closing, since Phycisians are no longer choose to be self-employed and PA’s having difficulties to find another Phycisian to work with. 

    The OTP- Optimal Team Practice- was coming up all the time. It’s what we have on our minds and work on for the last few years and AAPA Leaders work diligently at it. Just as a fact- 20 States have active OTP and 9 States pursuing that in 2019th. Everyone is entitled to have their opinion, but when you as a PA don’t have a job because of legal constarains and law says that you need to have Physician in order to practice medicine- you might think twice about this change.

   We talked about how to raise public awareness about PA Profession- we need to use all channels that available to us, including all modern media routes. AAPA designed a great add that can be run on local, state channels or billboard. We can have it run at the gym or local diner. Patients are everywhere and we can access them in so many ways and educate them. We can teach them about us, our education, scope of practice and what we do on a day to day basis. Knowledge is power that should be turned to our advantage. In the end it’s the Patient who will ultimately benefit. Educated consumer is the best tool for PA Proffession.

    There are a lot of work needs to be done to clarify what OTP is, as it appears that even many PA’s don’t have a clear understanding of what it entails.

    What is OTP:

 1. Emphasize PA’s commitment to Team PA/Phycisian Practice.

 2. Replace obsolete Supervisory Agreement Laws to a Practice Level Agreement between Practicing Physician and PA at the practice level.

 3. Create separate majority PA Boards to regulate PA’s or give that authority to healing arts or medical board that have as members both PA’s and Phycisians that practice with PA’s.

4. Authorize PA’s to be directly reimbursed by all public and private Insurers. 

  AAPA has a lot of detailed information on their website on OTP and the progress our Society is making to implement it in the future.

    Huddle became very popular in a short period of time. I remember it as of yesterday when it was first launched at one of AAPA Conferences and now it’s one of the most popular ways among PA’s to  communicate. At the LAS we had a first pick at few additions that Huddle developed and will be unveiled at the New Orleans AAPA Conference.

    This LAS prepares us to work hard on behave of our colleagues, profession and ultimately the millions of patients that PA’s have been taking care of for the last fifty years.