We Stand Together After the Orlando Shooting

Fellow PA Educators and Students,

This past weekend, 49 people were killed and dozens more were injured in a horrific mass shooting in Orlando. Our hearts are heavy with this news, and we extend our sincerest condolences to everyone affected.

Once again, we are called upon to serve in the aftermath of a brutal attack. Once again, we must use our medical training to pull some glimmer of hope out of the wreckage of tragedy. Once again, we must take on the impossible moral burden of saving some lives — but not all of them. Once again… too many times.

We stand together with all other medical professionals against this twisted rage, working through havoc and pain to repair what hatred has torn apart. We are called upon to treat not just physical injuries but also the psychic damage that follows an event like this, traumatizing those who were present that night — both victims and first responders — as well as their families, their friends, and their communities.

Sometimes, it might feel safer for us to retreat from the difficult emotions that accompany our work, to become jaded and distant, teaching and practicing medicine more as a collection of tools and techniques than a proud and ancient calling. Fight this temptation.

Keep your heart exposed and raw. Never lose your personal and intimate connection with human suffering that defines the compassionate PA. This isn’t a skill we can teach. It isn’t a class you can take. It is learned by example, from the day-to-day experience of working alongside educators and clinicians who feel profoundly and act decisively in service to others. You can see it in the faces of the first responders and the medical staff in Orlando.

We can’t predict exactly when and where PAs will be called upon to serve nor the exact conditions in which they will find themselves. But we can make sure that every PA is prepared to bring the full breadth of their education, the full strength of their intellect, and the full depth of their compassion to serve those who are most in need. PA education has never been more important.

In solidarity,

Jennifer Snyder, PhD, PA-C
President, Physician Assistant Education Association

Timi Agar Barwick, MP
CEO, Physician Assistant Education Association