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PAs, students march on Washington DC, express concerns

MUSC physician assistant (PA) students joined fellow students and practicing PAs from across the country in Washington, D.C., to meet with legislators and promote health care issues as part of American Association of Physician Assistants' (AAPA) National Call-In to Congress Day.

PAs go to
                                        WashingtonA South Carolina AAPA contingent and MUSC PA students journeyed to Washington D.C. as part of their annual Capitol Connections effort. Attending are Jesse Blanton, back row, from left, Colin Johnson, Tim Stuart, Paul F. Jacques, Rebecca Patton, Megan E. Fulton, Ali Whitten, Melissa Whitson and Victoria Gleichman.

The annual event brings together advocates who engage with legislators and staff in face-to-face meetings, communicating their profession's legislative priorities, according to Megan E. Fulton, PA, Department of Neurosurgery and South Carolina AAPA Lowcountry representative. Fulton was among a group of practitioners and students who were part of a South Carolina contingent attending this year's event March 26 – 27.

The first day was spent in a training session learning about multiple issues that PAs face in their work such as allowing them to provide hospice care to Medicare beneficiaries; making PAs eligible for Medicaid Electronic Health Record incentives; enabling PAs to assist in the care for federal workers injured on the job; and ensuring continued federal support of PA educational programs through Title VII.

California Congresswoman Karen Bass, who was the first PA elected to Congress, was the guest speaker and provided motivational guidance.

AAPA predicts that the number of practicing PAs will increase from 83,466 in 2010 to 128,174 in 2018. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that PAs will be the second fastest-growing profession in the next decade.

SCAAPA members in attendance included Tim Stuart (president), Paul F. Jacques, Fulton, Michael Petrillo and MUSC PA students: Colin Johnson, Rebecca Patton, Jesse Blanton, Victoria Gleichman, Ali Whitten and Melissa Whitson.

Whitson was among several students who felt positive about this advocacy experience.

"Attending this year's Capital Connections not only gave me a better understanding of the way our government works, but it also made me appreciate how, as future PAs, we can help influence positive changes that can make a big difference in our profession. It was great to be among professionals and other students from all over the country and see so much national support for PAs."

Gleichman also felt empowered by the unity of this effort.

"I'm excited for the patients, PAs, and health care providers who will benefit from the visit to Capitol Hill. It was great to be part of a team that is going to make changes in South Carolina."




Friday, May 4, 2012

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