On behalf of the Physician Assistant Committee, I bring some exciting updates over the last few months since the last newsletter.
As you all are probably aware, in May 2021 at the AAPA national conference, the AAPA HOD voted for a title change to Physician Associate. There are still a number of steps that must be taken before PAs can hold themselves out as "Physician Associates" as legislative and regulatory changes need to occur; however, this professional title change is on its way. As an executive board member of AAHIVM, I was able to share the great news with my board members as well as educate them on the history of the title change process and what it can mean for us in terms of parity in job opportunities, even though our scope of practice does not change. The Academy prides itself on being one of very few medical membership organizations that includes all provider types as eligible members and has respected each one equally. The Academy shared news of the title change by AAPA in a feature article in the Weekly Advocate, and are ready to make the title change throughout the organization once finalized.
The next big announcement is the start of the PA Preceptorship Program! Throughout the first half of the year, the committee and I have been working on a pilot program for PA students who are interested in HIV medicine to be connected with practicing PAs who are credentialed as HIV Specialists to further their education prior to graduating. When I was in PA graduate school, I did not know what type of medicine I wanted to work in, but knew my calling was in underserved communities. I was fortunate enough to go to a family medicine rotation with a physician who loved teaching PAs and also was an early treater in the HIV epidemic. I was able to learn about HIV medicine through him and his patients and fell in love with the work. After graduating, I was lucky again to find a job in the exact field I enjoyed so much during rotation and have never looked back. Dr Watkins' training is part of the reason I precept students to this day. I find joy in showing new clinicians what possibilities are out there in medicine, and hoped to expand education through the Academy.
On June 29th and June 30th, the PA Committee hosted its first Town Halls to present the Preceptorship Program. Credentialed PAs were invited and we had a great turnout!
If you would like to listen to the zoom recording, click here and use passcode: X9F@Zo$i
From these meetings, several clinicians expressed willing to precept PA graduate students interested in HIV medicine, public health, sexual health, etc. The committee will now advertise our program to PA graduate programs throughout the country to see how much interest there is from students. Our hope is to match up as many PA students with PA clinicians to continue the legacy of PAs in HIV healthcare.
With that being said, if you are interested in being a preceptor but were unable to make it to the town hall or did not get the original email, please reach out! I would love to connect with you to discuss the program further.
it's been a banner year so far for PA membership within the Academy. Since the start of 2021, PA membership has grown remarkably. At the start of 2021, there were 74 PA members and today there are 110, an increase of 48% since January. If you are a new PA member and would be interested in joining the PA Committee, please let me know. And if you are credentialed as an HIV Specialist but not currently an Academy member, I want to encourage you to join up.
I wish all of you the best and hope that every day is a new day for knowledge, education, understanding, empathy, and kindness.
------------------------------Angela Kapalko, PA-C, AAHIVSThe Jonathan Lax Treatment Center at Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health CentersChair, AAHIVM Physician Assistant CommitteeSecretary, AAHIVM National Board of DirectorsPhiladelphia PAakapalko@fight.org------------------------------