Trading Places: Utah Partners with Netherlands PA Program

As the PA profession in the Netherlands continues to expand — now celebrating 14 years as a profession — faculty and students from the HAN University of Applied Sciences in Nijmegen were hosted by the University of Utah for the second year in a row.

During the week-long visit to the University of Utah, activities of the students and faculty from The Netherlands included a tour of the School of Medicine campus and hospital system, a meeting with the chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, presentations by the Dutch students, and meetings with the Utah faculty including the Diversity and Inclusion faculty.

Director of the PA department at the HAN University of Applied Sciences, Geert van den Brink, delivered a presentation open to the full campus on the Netherlands Polder Model in health care. van den Brink is chair of the National Board of Nurse Practitioners and PAs in the Netherlands and has been involved in the development of the legal framework and establishment of an independent reimbursement in health care.

After his visit to Utah, he traveled to the PAEA Education Forum in Washington, DC, where he presented research on “Hospital Task Transfer to Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners” focused on the tasks that have shifted from MDs to PAs in the Netherlands.

At the end of the week in Utah, Division Chief of PA Studies Trent Honda, PhD, PA-C, invited the Netherlands faculty and students and Utah PA faculty to his home in Salt Lake City for a closing reception to facilitate continued discussions about relationships developed over the last several years.

Following the successful visit of faculty and students from the Netherlands, Utah Associate Division of PA Studies Chief Virginia Valentin, DrPH, PA-C, traveled to Zurich, Switzerland, for the International Academy of Physician Associate Educators conference to present a paper on “Developing an International Exchange.”

The goal of the exchange is to learn about each other’s PA programs, develop long-term collaborations, and educate students from both countries.

The visit to Utah also allowed the Netherlands PAs to learn more about the U.S. health care system and observe the use of PAs in the outpatient and inpatient setting. There were lively discussions about future research collaborations and the University of Utah’s success in recruiting diverse applicants and students. Both PA faculty from Utah and The Netherlands reported the activities were a success and helped to advance the development of informal and formal partnerships.

“The Utah students were great at taking in the Dutch students and were very welcoming,” noted van den Brink.

“This international exchange has exceeded my expectations. We are learning a lot from the Dutch and have developed true friendships,” said Valentin. “I look forward to years of collaboration.”

Next year Utah PA faculty plan to visit Nijmegen, Netherlands, to learn more about the Dutch PA profession and health system from the other side of the Atlantic.