president, physician assistant, PA, ADPA, doctorate
To The Biden-Harris Administration:
On behalf of the Academy of Doctoral PAs (ADPA), we would like to congratulate you on your newly elected position as President and Vice President. The ADPA looks forward to working closely with your Administration and 117th Congress over the next term. As a healthcare professional association, we would specifically like to work with you on several policy issues relating to increasing the access to care for the people we serve.
The coronavirus pandemic affects large swaths of the United States and is a concern for all healthcare constituents. Hand in hand, increasing access to competent, capable healthcare providers for all Americans is an issue we would like to bring before the new administration. In addition, reshaping our nation's Healthcare System to better perform for those in need has been glaringly obvious need for many years. In the past 12 months, the need has magnified with the light of the pandemic. Physician Assistants (PAs), including doctoral PAs, continue to practice medicine. PAs diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications in the same way that physicians and nurse practitioners serve their patients. PAs often serve as a patient’s principal health care provider. PAs play a critical role in the current healthcare system.
First and foremost, the Academy is pledging to continue the fight against COVID-19 and help to bring the pandemic to an end. Secondly, the ADPA is concerned with expanding access to quality and affordable healthcare for all Americans by protecting and expanding upon advances made under the Affordable Care Act. Finally, ADPA’s goal is to improve and to strengthen our nation’s healthcare system. As practicing clinicians that often serve as the principal provider for patients, PAs play a critical role in a patient- centered healthcare system.
The Healthcare Pandemic
Over the past 12 months, many PAs served as part of a patient-centered healthcare team that have tirelessly worked to fight on the front line of the Coronavirus pandemic. The PA profession is committed to care for patients in the communities that are affected by COVID-19. Unfortunately, the healthcare system is currently not working as efficiently and effectively as it needs to give all Americans easy access to competent, capable health care providers. If anything has come out of this pandemic, it is that outdated legislation has handcuffed PAs in their abilities to provide care to the full extent of their education and medical training. Recovery from the pandemic cannot occur with a physician workforce alone, but will require that all healthcare providers are given the ability to practice medicine to their fullest capabilities. The healthcare system is in dire need of change. The weight of this pandemic threatens to break healthcare if these changes do not take place. PAs can competently fill this void if allowed to practice at the full capabilities of their experience and training. Recovery cannot happen with physicians alone due to the current shortage of available physicians and the length of time necessary to train new physicians. Recovery will also necessitate the need for physician assistant providers to be unhandcuffed by legislation so that we may work to our fullest training and expertise.
The ADPA would also like to voice their sentiments that the federal government needs to judiciously expediate the conversion of PAs from dependent practitioners to independent, full practice practitioners for all federal agencies that operate under a federal scope of practice. The conversion process has been slowly occurring for many years. Certainly, research points to the positive effects of full practice authority implementation. In order to effectively utilize current PA labor inputs within the healthcare workforce, it is critical that departments such as the Veterans Affairs and Federal Bureau of Prisons follow in the footsteps of the Indian Health Services and allow PAs to utilize their full scope of training and experience. Specifically, PAs can effectively improve emergency response, efficiency of care, and access for patients. Current state requirements vary regarding the relationship of a PA to their supervising or collaborating physician, ranging from full PA practice autonomy to a very regimented practice environment. Certainly, there has been great headway within the past two years in regard to tetheringof PAs to Physicians within the federal system. However, this tether still remains within the Federal agencies. By removing the tether from physician to PA provider, PAs will be allowed to practice in a less burdensome and more efficient delivery system. The federal government will find it easier to implement these providers if the tether is removed as well.
Prior research has demonstrated that the most successful teams are those that fully utilize the capabilities of each member within that team. This forms the basis of the concept of patient-centered care. Despite physician groups’ objections, PAs and other healthcare providers have proven their competency and capabilities within medicine. No profession should maintain a monopoly on Americans healthcare as the physician profession has for over a century. Limiting the scope of other professions that may potentially compete with physicians does not improve the health care of Americans.
The Healthcare Workforce
Our country's Healthcare System is in dire need of reform. The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are still unknown and the impact of the pandemic could be felt for years. Also, as baby boomers age, the data indicates that doctor to physician ratios will only continue to increase. Furthermore, as primary care physicians move out of medicine, the shortage of access to care will only continue to worsen. The PA profession stands ready to fill this need and asks the Biden - Harris Administration to remove barriers in federal laws so that patients can continue to access more efficient and timely medical care.
The ADPA is appreciative of the prior Obama and Trump administrations with regard to the opportunities to discuss the role of the PA profession in relation to healthcare. Please feel free to have a member of your team contact Dr. Nicole Mason, president of the ADPA, at firstname.lastname@example.org you have any further questions.
The ADPA Board of Directors