Professional Associations and Journals for the Physician Assistant
Physician assistant school was challenging to say the least, but your presence on campus, in the classrooms and labs, and in the hospitals, doctor’s offices, and clinics where you carried out your rotations provided you with more than an education. You were afforded an opportunity to interact with other PAs and various healthcare professionals. Were you aware of how the simple act eating lunch with your fellow PA candidates was an education in itself? Discussing issues such as the latest surgical techniques or new healthcare bills in the legislature came easily because conversation and information were readily available. Part of your education as a physician assistant was, and is, discussion of current events in healthcare, the latest technological advances, and newest treatment remedies. However, once you graduate and throw yourself into your new position as a PA, you will need to actively incorporate this kind of activity into your daily life. Maybe you will work in a hospital with other PAs, but unless you’re surrounded by other physician assistants outside of the workplace, discussing work and the latest healthcare related issues of the day will be difficult.
Professional associations and journals become the new link to keep you informed and up-to-date on the current events in your profession. Keeping abreast of what’s going on in the medical field and with physician assistants around the country and the world benefits you as a practitioner and your patients as healthcare consumers.
The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) is the only association that represents all physician assistants throughout the United States and its territories no matter what their specialty. The AAPA is a wonderful resource for PAs. Membership allows access to the latest healthcare news and happenings around the country. The sharing of information and ideas among members helps physician assistants provide better care to their patients. The AAPA website boasts 43,000 members worldwide, making it an impressive resource for learning and sharing new ideas about healthcare.
Specialty associations such as the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA) and state physician assistant associations help narrow the focus of interest for PAs. Membership in these organizations improves healthcare to consumers because the information gained from these groups is more pertinent to the PA’s specific patient population.
If you have a particular interest in the education of physician assistants and how educational institutions prepare individuals to become PAs, become a member of the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA), the organization that represents PA education programs in the United States. The PAEA website states that the organization’s “mission is to pursue excellence, foster faculty development, advance the body of knowledge that defines quality education and patient-centered care, and promote diversity in all aspects of physician assistant education.”
Membership in professional associations is the best way to network with other PAs and stay informed about the latest current events in the profession.
Thankfully, there are many professional journals that reinforce the PA’s knowledge and help inform him or her about the latest medical advances. The Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA) is one of the more well-known journals but other helpful publications exist. Should you ever find yourself with a few, precious minutes of downtime, a few points and clicks of your mouse will take you to The Internet Journal of Academic Physician Assistants (ISPUB.com) where a world of information pertinent to today’s physician assistant waits. The different medical specialties often publish periodicals that speak directly to practitioners in those fields. This is helpful because dermatology PAs probably aren’t as interested in the latest surgical techniques as surgical PAs. JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) and the New England Journal of Medicine are aimed at medical doctors and DOs, but both are relevant resources for physician assistants. PAs work with physicians so why should they not read the same journals? If you are a member of a statewide PA association, it’s more than likely that group will produce a journal of some kind. By subscribing to it, you can ensure staying current on issues pertinent to your local patient population.
Staying abreast of the latest healthcare news and technological advances is of the utmost importance when providing healthcare to the public. As physician assistants you take the public’s healthcare seriously; you advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves, and staying informed and connected to other physician assistants is the best way to do your job well.
Last Updated: 08/20/2013