AAPA House of Delegates Addresses Key PA Education Issues
Late last month, PAEA leadership traveled to Indianapolis to participate as official observers during the 2022 AAPA House of Delegates (HOD) meeting – the first in-person session to be held since 2019. Over the course of three days, the HOD debated a series of resolutions impacting the future direction of the PA profession, many with significant implications for PA programs, faculty, and students.
At the beginning of the proceedings, PAEA President Kara Caruthers, MSPAS, PA-C, delivered opening remarks reporting on the Association’s recent adoption of a new Strategic Plan, efforts to support members through the title change process, and intent to host a summit exploring the implications of an entry-level doctorate for the PA profession. In her report, President Caruthers expressed appreciation for all PA faculty and preceptors for their contributions to PA education throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and called upon all attendees to join PAEA’s efforts to promote justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the PA profession.
Throughout the remainder of the meeting, delegates considered an array of resolutions intended to address both long-standing and emerging issues for the profession. Recognizing the ongoing impact of clinical preceptor shortages for PA programs, the House voted to eliminate prior limitations on the number of Category 1 CME credits that could be claimed for training students. Prior policy restricted preceptors to claiming 20 Category 1 CME credits each calendar year, and PAEA testified in support of this change to further incentivize student training.
Beyond preceptor shortages, the House also considered updates to AAPA policy pertaining to the entry level and terminal degree for the profession. At the 2020 PAEA Business Meeting, Association members adopted policy stating that, “PAEA is confident in the preparation of PA graduates at the master’s degree level to meet the competencies necessary for quality and cost-effective clinical PA practice. PAEA supports the master’s degree as the terminal and entry-level degree for the PA profession. The Association supports all PAs in their educational advancement throughout their careers, including pursuing postgraduate doctorate-level education.” In alignment with this policy, PAEA testified in support of a resolution affirming the master’s degree as the terminal degree while emphasizing that this issue continues to be debated among educators. PAEA reitered its intent to host a Doctoral Summit in 2023 examining the issue of an entry-level doctorate for PA education with a range of external stakeholders in the Association’s testimony.
A final issue considered by the House pertained to differences in academic credentials among practicing PAs. While all PA programs are now required to award a master’s degree, the precise credential awarded varies considerably between institutions with approximately 34% of programs awarding a Master of Physician Assistant Studies, 18% awarding a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, and 14.5% awarding a Master of Medical Science, among other variations. Further, a significant number of PAs continue to practice with Baccalaureate or Associate degrees or certificates of completion. PAEA testified in support of a resolution opposing any distinction between PAs in payment/regulatory policy based upon these distinctions, a measure which was subsequently passed by the House.
PAEA would like to thank President Kara Caruthers, MSPAS, PA-C, President-Elect Linda Sekhon, DHSc, PA-C, and Immediate Past President Michel Statler, MLA, PA-C, for their representation of PA education during the 2022 AAPA House of Delegates meeting. Members with questions regarding the proceedings are invited to contact Tyler Smith at tsmith@PAEAonline.org.