By Beth Ehlers, PA-C
This past week, AAPA hosted their annual Leadership & Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. North Carolina was well represented with PAs from various specialties and students from multiple North Carolina PA Programs. The summit started strong with congressional meetings on Capitol Hill.
The focus was on two current federal bills that focus on modernizing language to allow for patients to have more access to care provided by PAs without needing to see a physician.
Improving Access to Workers’ Compensation for Injured Federal Workers Act, (S. 131/H.R. 618) would modernize the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) to cover services provided to injured federal workers by both PAs and NPs.
Promoting Access to Diabetic Shoes Act (S. 260/H.R.704) would allow for PAs to certify that a patient is in need of diabetic shoes without the requirement to see a physician.
Throughout our various meetings on Capitol Hill, we were strongly met with support for the bills and were able to continue to build and improve the relationships with North Carolina senators and representatives. Along with the meetings on Capitol Hill, there were numerous learning sessions about advocacy and political engagement.
As a student, I hosted a legislative visit on campus and attended PA Day at the Legislature. I shared how I was able to accomplish these things and how I encouraged others to get involved. I stressed the importance of faculty and constituent organization support as to how I was able to accomplish so much as a student.
Along with great networking opportunities, there were presentations on how to effectively use media, Optimal Team Practice throughout the country, the Licensure Compact, and the importance of PA mental health and well being. NCAPA was given a “shout-out” for effective use of media. On the final day of the summit, a practicing PA in Wyoming, who is currently serving in his state senate, spoke on how to get involved in politics as a PA. He stated how he is proud to represent his profession while also getting a chance to represent the people of his community.
This event was a great networking opportunity and was very educational about current PA issues. PAs and PA students were able to share their struggles and hear potential solutions from those who have faced the same challenges. Furthermore, PA students were able to speak with their future colleagues and gain insight on the importance of advocacy and political engagement to take back to their faculty and classmates back home. North Carolina was well represented at LAS and we hope this continues for years to come.