By Rebecca Magwood, MMSC, PA-C, and Tiffany Perry, MMSC, PA-C

Pumpkin spice lattes. Fall festivals. Pumpkin patches. Cool weather. These are generally welcomed changes that come in October. However, this is also a time when physician assistants/associates are commemorated nationwide. October 6th marks National Physician Assistant (PA) Day, a holiday that celebrates PA’s contribution to healthcare. The first PA Day was on October 6, 1987, acknowledging the 20th anniversary of the first graduating class of PAs from Duke University. Eugene A. Stead Jr., MD, also known as the founder of the PA profession, assembled the first class of PAs in an attempt to alleviate the shortage of primary care physicians in the mid-1960s. Appropriately, October 6th also marks Dr. Stead’s birthday. Dr. Stead witnessed how veterans from the Korean War possessed the clinical skills from their service overseas, however lacked the formal medical credentials. He saw how patients’ needs could be met by professionals without lengthy training and expenditure that came with traditional medical training. It was these thoughts that birthed a new profession- physician assistant/associate. Fast forward to 2004, National PA Day was changed to PA week. From October 6-12th we honor, recognize and raise awareness about our profession.

Rebecca Magwood, MMSC, PA-C

Physician assistants practice in a wide range of specialties and work settings. The profession consistently ranks as one of the top-rated jobs in the U.S. attracting many applicants to PA programs. There are now more than 300 master degree level ARC-PA accredited programs nationwide with 16 here in Florida. PA programs range from 27 months to 3 years in length. PA candidates are required to engage in 2,000 hours of clinical rotations and upon completion of the program are eligible to take a board certification exam administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Successful passing of this examination earns the title Physician Assistant-Certified or PA-C. A state license is needed to practice within that state. In order to maintain certification, a PA must complete 100 hours of continuing medical education (CME) credits every two years and take a recertification exam (the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam, or PANRE) every 10 years.

Tiffany Perry, MMSC, PA-C

PAs are one of the fastest growing health care provider professions with more than 168,300 PAs practicing nationwide, a 76% increase since 2013, and more than 514 million patient interactions every year. However, according to an independent public opinion survey of more than 2,500 U.S. adults conducted by the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), The Harris Poll, 53% of adults have skipped or delayed healthcare in the past two years. Twenty-five percent of these adults reported their delay in seeking healthcare, or skipping it entirely, was due to wait time for an appointment. In addition, 56% of U.S. adults reported waiting more than a week for an appointment. These statistics exemplify the increasing need for access to healthcare and PAs are driven to not only expand access but to provide personalized, team-based healthcare to all communities.

PAs believe communities thrive when people are healthy and with a diverse blend of medical expertise, compassion and empathy, PAs are able to provide the highest quality of care for every patient. PAs go above and beyond for their patients by not only putting them first, but ensuring clear communication and collaboration among the healthcare team, including the patient, and advocating for their patients tirelessly. It is because of this that nearly 90% of U.S. adults say PAs improve the quality of their healthcare.

This year’s AAPA campaign for PA Week is PAs Go Beyond and on October 6, faculty and students from South University PA Program West Palm Beach, will be honoring and recognizing their local PA preceptors with gratitude for going beyond with not only teaching students during clinical rotations, but mentoring them as future colleagues as well. Each PA preceptor will receive a South University PA Program bento lunchbox pack. The program is delighted to honor the PA preceptors and want to recognize all other community PAs for everything they do in and out of the clinic and hospital settings. Without the PA profession, healthcare would be scarce, however due to medical pioneers like Dr. Stead our pumpkin patch of healthcare providers has grown, carving more time for quality healthcare. Now that’s something to “fall” for!

For more information about the PA profession, check out AAPA.org. For more information about South University, our programs and enrollment process, call (561) 273-6500 today and ask for Admissions.

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