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Academy of Physician Assistants announces PA of the Year

by Jamie Woody
Arnold E. Metz was named the 2008 Physician Assistant (PA) of the Year by the state organization that represents the PA profession, South Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants (SCAPA). Metz will receive the award at the annual SCAPA Continuing Medical Education Conference Oct. 11.
Metz, a PA for more than 30 years, is being recognized for his tireless efforts improving health care in South Carolina. He is a faculty member at the MUSC PA Program where he has been an assistant professor for 12 years.   
During his tenure at MUSC he has lectured, mentored and facilitated the education of more than 600 PAs, many of whom are practicing in South Carolina. Metz served six years on the PA Advisory Committee which advises the Board of Medical Examiners in the process of licensing PAs.
“In my 12 years of involvement with MUSC, I have seen the profession grow from a mere 50 licensed PAs to more than 600 PAs, all increasing access to health care across South Carolina,” said Metz.
At the MUSC PA Program, Metz is admissions coordinator and teaches emergency medicine, community health, physical diagnosis, and clinical problem solving. He is also conducting research on tobacco prevention curricula for middle school students.
Metz has 30 years of medical experience serving as a PA in the United States Air Force, working in primary care at MUSC, and six years of practicing emergency medicine at Roper Northwoods Emergency Room.
Quality patient care is at the core of what PAs do since the inception of the profession in 1968. PAs give their patients an enhanced sense of responsibility by teaching patients critical information about their health care while providing guidance, support, and the most efficient and effective care at all times. In a perfect world, the patient and the PA would speak the same language, at least in the provider’s office. However, studies have shown that many patients do not understand basic health care instructions.
PAs and PA students are working to help solve this problem through a variety of health literacy projects. Health literacy refers to a patient’s ability to understand health care information like prescription instructions, insurance forms, and directions for patient care.
Through various initiatives, PAs partner with schools, libraries, shelters, and hospitals to reach the youngest patients—children. PAs also work with elderly patients by helping them better understand their overall health care through the use of pictograms and other visual aids to help ensure that medication regimens are properly followed.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Healthy People 2010 program, an individual is considered to be “health literate” when he or she possesses the skills to understand information and services, and uses these skills to make appropriate decisions about health care.
For information, visit SCAPA's Web site at

Friday, Oct. 10, 2008
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