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NCCPA Newsletter
National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)6/28/2018
June 2018

The 2017 Statistical Profile on Certified PAs Higlights Growth in PA Profession

Act Quickly! Last Chance to Register for the Pilot

Brandon Earehart, PA-C, Becomes Pride of Savannah with Opening of the City's Only Clinic Focused on LGBTQ Community

Share Your Health Tips with Patients

Like Father, Like Son: Cardiovascular Surgery is in Their Veins

Meet NCCPA Board Member Joel A. Kase, DO, MPH

Become an Ambassador: Join the PA Promotion Advisory Council

NCCPA Volunteer Spotlight: Celebrating Margaret Dancan

New Podcast Reminds You to Store It, Don't Ignore It!

nccPA Health Foundation Grantee, Marquette University, Promotes Health Literacy

nccPA Health Foundation: Don't Miss Out! Submit Your Application for Our Board of Directors

Meet Chipper Wallet, PA-C! Do You Have Your Copy of the Special Edition Comic Book?

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 The 2017 Statistical Profile on Certified PAs Highlights Growth in PA Profession

Did you know that the PA profession has grown almost 54% in the last 8 years? Or that 19.9% of PAs practice in family medicine/general practice? Or that the average salary has increased by 12.7% in the last five years? The 2017 Statistical Profile on Certified PAs is now available and includes this information and more.

 
The U.S. News and World Report ranked the PA profession #2 in the “Best Health Care Jobs of 2018” report and the data in the profile provides proof of why this is true. The 2017 Statistical Report reveals where the profession currently is and where it’s going and growing.

“Our latest statistical report illustrates how quickly the PA profession is growing in all areas of healthcare,” says Colette Jeffery, Research Analyst – Exam Programs, “PAs are practicing everywhere across the country, from small towns to big cities. The demand for Certified PAs is greater than it has even been.”

The information in the profile is only as rich and valuable as it is because PAs like yourself take time to complete your profile at your online record. If you haven’t updated your profile recently, sign in to your record at www.nccpa.net to update it.

Look for our next profile – the 2017 Statistical Profile on Certified Physician Assistants by Specialty – in July.

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Act Quickly! Last Chance to Register for the Pilot

We put out the call, and so far more than 15,000 certified PAs have answered! Next year these PAs will participate in the Pilot, an alternative to PANRE that will allow eligible PAs to answer core medical knowledge questions over time, from any device, anywhere.

This approach affords you flexibility, as it does not require any trips to a testing center and there is no advance scheduling requirement.

If your certification expires in 2018 or 2019 and you’re interested in taking the Pilot that will begin January 2019, don’t delay! Registration closes June 30, 2018.

The proctored one-day PANRE test will still be available at a Pearson VUE location for those who do not wish to participate in the Pilot.

Whether you chose to participate in the Pilot or PANRE, be sure that you register for one or the other if your certification expires at the end of 2018.

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Brandon Earehart, PA-C, Becomes Pride of Savannah with Opening of the City’s Only Clinic Focused on LGBTQ Community

The LGBTQ community celebrates Pride Month in June. While there continues to be advancements in delivery of medical care, there’s still a need to close health disparities for LGBTQ patient populations.

Certified PA Brandon Earehart is dismantling these barriers to care with the founding of Starland Family Practice in Savannah, Georgia, a primary care center with a focus on the LGBT community. Read more about how he’s supporting  this community in our Q&A feature.

 Starland Family Practice opened in May 2018. Tell us about what motivated you to open the clinic.

As a proud member of the LGBTQ community, I have always wanted to provide comprehensive medical care to LGBTQ individuals, especially those with HIV. When I relocated to the southeast in 2011, I learned quickly that this was a practice area that was significantly underserved. Numerous individuals would tell me that they could not get PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) from their primary care providers, because they were uncomfortable prescribing it. Also, while working part-time at a very large college campus in Statesboro, Georgia, I realized individuals in rural areas had even less medical options, especially transgender patients.  

After conducting extensive research, I learned that the southeast has become the epicenter of new HIV diagnoses in the country, as well as an overwhelming increase in sexually transmitted infections. I created an online survey to find out where patients were going to receive care and the response was overwhelming. I learned that patients seeking quality care and compassion in a judgement-free environment were traveling 50-200 miles or further to find it. The area was in need of a medical provider that was willing to treat and offer preventative care to our diverse community.

What unique services do you provide to the local LGBTQ community?

Starland Family Practice offers quality primary care services to all individuals, with a specific focus on theShare LGBTQ community. We provide a substantial amount of transgender focused therapy, including hormone replacement therapy. Since opening in May 2018, more than 50% of our patients have identified as transgender or gender queer/non-binary. We prescribe PrEP and treat HIV in a primary care setting that eliminates the need for our patients to see an infectious disease specialist. We believe in a patient-centered approach to care that not only addresses HIV treatment, but the overall health care needs and goals of our patients.

What is the range of patients you treat? 

We treat patients aged 16 and older. We are very pleased that a large base of our patients are local college students, some traveling over an hour to receive the medical attention.   

What’s the community response been like to the opening of your clinic?

The community response to Starland has been tremendous. In addition to our growing patient list, we have been profiled by the NBC-affiliate WSAV and by the ABC-affiliate WJCL. The Savannah LGBT Center, where I serve as the Medical Liaison, has been a great resource for clients as well as networking opportunities with LGBTQ-affirming providers.

Starland is the only clinic specializing in LGBTQ in the area. The closest clinic is in Augusta, 200 miles away, and they only treat patients that have no insurance or are underinsured, and whose income is less than 200% of the federal poverty line. In the state of Georgia, the nearest similar clinic to Starland is in Atlanta.

In preparation for the opening of Starland Family Practice, Earehart became a Certified HIV Specialist through the American Academy of HIV Medicine. He’s a member of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, the American Academy of HIV Medicine and a member of the LGBT PA Caucus. Earehart graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant studies from Philadelphia University in 2001. 

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Share Your Health Tips with Patients

We’re looking for PAs like you to share health tips or answers to common patient questions to be published on our PAsDoThat.net website.

Spotting signs of depression, back-to-school, flu season, reducing risk of heart disease, choosing the right health care provider… what other common health concerns do your patients have throughout the year? What other health or wellness topics do you think are important to address with your patients?

Your specialty area and years of experience give you a unique perspective to patient care and the knowledge to share wellness tips with patients.

Our most recent health tips blog written by Ryanne Coulson, PA-C, about how to protect your skin this summer is available here.

Ready to share your best tips for a healthier life? Email us your idea today!

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Like Father, Like Son: Cardiovascular Surgery is in Their Veins

Certified PA Ron Eller III remembers tagging along with his dad, certified PA Ron Eller, Jr., to the Army medical center when he was just six years old. Dad, who refers to himself as Ron 2.0 to reduce confusion, remembers Ron 3.0’s early interest in everything medical—never shying away from the bandages, tubes and IVs. What neither could imagine back then was that Ron 3.0 would not only become a PA, but enter the same specialty as his dad and indeed, for a short time, work in the same practice. What both can say is that being a PA  is a rewarding career that has afforded them unique bonding opportunities.

 “It goes both ways,” says Ron 2.0 “We discuss drug combos, protocols and procedures and have learned from each other.”

Ron 2.0 is a legacy of the profession’s roots, enlisting as a combat medic in 1979 and quickly becoming interested when a PA became the medical officer of his platoon. Military medicine was a pinnacle he aspired to, so he took college courses at night, applied and, despite his doubts, was accepted to the PA program.

“I tell people it was the best mistake that ever happened to me because I did not think I would get into the program.”

He continued to seek a bigger challenge. After practicing as a military PA for just a few years he applied and had to fight for early admission to another program and became certified as a perfusionist. When he left the Army, he was hired by ex-military surgeons to join their cardiovascular surgery practice, a specialty he has remained in for 19 years.

Meanwhile, Ron 3.0 remained interested in a medical career. He studied biology in college, worked as a pharmacy tech and considered med school. He decided that the PA profession made more sense, requiring less time and the flexibility to change specialties throughout his career. After graduating from Philadelphia University (now Jefferson University), he was hired directly into a cardiovascular surgery practice as well (not where his dad worked although they did eventually work together for one year).

Although Ron 2.0 has moonlighted in other surgeries and the emergency department and Ron 3.0 worked in family practice for a short time, they agree that cardiovascular surgery pays well and keeps them on their “A” game.

“We work with the sickest patients, and what we do makes a difference because it gives patients another chance at life,” says Ron 2.0.

And yes, there is a Ron Eller IV, who is four years old. Ron 3.0 looks forward to bringing his son to the hospital with him some day. He thinks he will enjoy it because, even now, Ron 4.0 packs his Mr. Potato Head in a briefcase and says he is going to work in the hospital.

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Meet NCCPA Board Member Joel A. Kase, DO, MPH

Joel Kase joined the Board of Directors of the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) in 2012, representing the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).  He chairs the Review Committee, is a member of the Financial Integrity Committee and serves on the Communications Advisory Workgroup. 


Kase has previously served as director of the emergency department for the VA Maine Health Care System in Augusta, as well as director of medical education for the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine. He has worked clinically with PAs and NPs for two decades and has been a collaborating physician for PAs for much of his clinical career. He is past president of the Maine Osteopathic Association.


Kase is a member of the Governor’s Physician Advisory Group, and of the Citizen Trade Policy Commission for the Maine state legislature.  At the AOA, he serves on the Bureau of State Government Affairs. He has published in peer-reviewed journals including Family Practice Management and Osteopathic Family Physician.

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Become an NCCPA Ambassador: Join the PA Promotion Advisory Council

We are now taking applications to join the PA Promotion Advisory Council, a group of PAs who will partner with us to contribute ideas and sources to media articles and to share our messages on social media. We meet on a one-hour conference call every other month and are looking for PAs who are engaged in NCCPA’s issues and mission.

Thank you to the eight PAs who acted as sources and a sounding board for news media ideas from 2017-2018. Those who served in this informal advisory status included Certified PAs:  Lisa Fields, Dave Hieber, Kristi Kincheloe, Johnny Paul, John Reel, Marisa Rodriguez, Donna Seton and Kristy Thomas. They represented different specialties and different areas of the country. This group:

  • Published 7 blogs and articles

  • Included 4 PAs featured on PAsDoThat.net

  • Recommended other PAs as sources for specialized areas

  • Helped vet articles and photos for accuracy


To apply to join the PA Promotion Advisory Council, send us an email at pr@nccpa.net with your specialty and state. We need eight new members to join our first call in August.

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NCCPA Volunteer Spotlight: Celebrating Margaret Dancan

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Certified PAs are heavily involved in the exam development process. NCCPA News will highlight some of these volunteers for the great work that they do in service to the organization and the PA profession. If you are interested in working on one of our exam committees contact us at volunteer@nccpa.net.

Margaret Dancan has been a PA for 26 years, the last 15 in neurosurgery. Several years ago, she received a survey asking for volunteers to work on an NCCPA committee. That was followed up by an email asking for volunteers to join a PANRE exam workgroup. She was getting ready to take PANRE and recertify for the fourth time, and decided to get involved both to contribute to the PA voices and the profession in general.

“There were 30 of us who came to a PANRE exam meeting and from that point I was hooked,” she says. “I had no idea of the complexity of the process. I was unaware of all the steps involved to make a test.” 

It can take a year or two to develop a question that makes it onto the test -- from writing the questions, to working with item writers to ensure the appropriate language, to the extensive vetting of questions with groups of PAs and as non-scored items on exams.

Since that initial meeting, Margaret has become very involved in the Automated Item Generation (AIG) committee. AIG is a ground-breaking way to generate more questions in a shorter amount of time, something that is important as NCCPA develops the pilot alternative to PANRE. 

“It has been wonderful to help build AIG from a concept to a working model, grouping symptoms and diseases and using technology to develop matrices that generate many similar questions,” says Margaret.

A large pool of test questions is required to build secure exams and to minimize test question exposure. AIG will help produce more items and can potentially shorten the development cycle.  However, it should be noted that questions generated through AIG and used on NCCPA’s exams will still undergo an extensive review process with PAs.

Margaret hopes many more PAs will volunteer to participate in the exam development process. “The only way to affect change is to get involved yourself,” she adds. “Volunteering is a way to help shape the profession and keep it viable so it continues to grow.” 

Margaret, who lives in Seattle, Washington is working toward her doctorate in Health Sciences (DHSc) with an interest in traumatic brain injuries and their effects on the pituitary gland. 

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 New Podcast Reminds You to Store It, Don't Ignore It!

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When you get the notification that you’ve been selected for an audit, be prepared but don’t sweat it! The new Five Answers from NCCPA podcast on CME audits is here to remind you that if you store it and don’t ignore it, having a ready record of your CME documents will carry you through the auditing process without headache and hassle. Hear more on this, and your other common questions, in a brisk five-minute podcast here!

The Five Answers from NCCPA podcast is available on PodBean, iTunes and Google Play.

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 nccPA Health Foundation Grantee, Marquette University, Promotes Health Literacy


Recipient of the 2017 Kathy J. Pedersen Grant to Promote Equitable Care, the Marquette University PA program, increased health knowledge and self-efficacy among low-income or homeless adults in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“Low health literacy is a modifiable yet under-recognized barrier to high quality and equitable healthcare,” said Joshua Knox, MA, PA-C, Marquette University PA faculty who led this project. “This project made low health literacy more apparent to providers, students, and patients at these clinics.”

Using the validated HEAL curriculum, PA faculty provided instruction and counseling about how to communicate about symptoms, diagnoses and treatment with a health care provider; how to interpret medical terminology and medical forms; and when to seek care at an emergency room to community members at two urban low-income clinics. 

40 course participants demonstrated gains in confidence of topic knowledge, although the results were not statistically significant. However, all participants reported a high degree of satisfaction; and changes in health behaviors were observed. 

Healing Health Literacy was presented to the Marquette PA students, at the Wisconsin Academy of PAs conference, and has been accepted for presentation at the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities conference.

The Foundation thanks all those who applied for the 2018 grant and looks forward to selecting this year’s recipient. The next funding cycle for the Kathy J. Pedersen Grant to Promote Equitable Care will open in the spring of 2019.

Don’t want to wait? The Foundation has issued more than $100,000 in small grant funding and encourages all certified PAs and PA students to design projects that positively impact health. Four grant programs are available year-round and provide funding for those seeking to Be the CHANGE in their communities ($1,000 awards), to foster mental health outreach ($1,000), and to foster oral health integration in education, clinical practice or outreach ($500 to $3,000 awards).

The Kathy J. Pedersen Grant to Promote Equitable Care is made possible by a generous donation to the nccPA Health Foundation from PAs Don and Kathy Pedersen.

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Don't Miss Out!
Submit Your Application for Our Board of Directors


Are you passionate about certified PAs improving health?  If so, apply for a seat on the nccPA Health Foundation Board of Directors by July 16, 2018. 

Board members serve three-year terms with the possibility of re-election for a second three-year term.  In this call for candidates, the Board is especially seeking individuals with experience in the following areas:  Professional practice and ethics, public health, interpretation and use of data, and nonprofit management.

Learn more about the work and role of the Foundation Board in our Information for Prospective Candidates and submit requested materials by Monday, July 16, 2018.  Questions?  Email Tiffany Flick at tiffanyf@nccpa.net.

The Foundation will review candidates later this year, and the new director is expected to be announced no later than December.  The director will begin his/her service to the nccPA Health Foundation on January 1, 2019. 

Stay up-to-date with all the Foundation’s latest news and opportunities by connecting with us on social media. Please be sure to “like” the nccPA Health Foundation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

      

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 Meet Chipper Wallet, PA-C!
 Do You Have Your Copy of the Special Edition Comic Book?

Many of the early PAs learned the new PA profession by following the adventures of Chipper Wallet in the nationally syndicated comic strip Gasoline Alley. They watched Chipper fight in Vietnam as a corpsman, become a PA when he returned home, and age into a founding PA who was a guest at the
profession’s 50th anniversary celebrations. Experience the adventures of Chipper Wallet, PA-C, in this special edition comic book only available through the PA History Society. It makes a great gift! Get your copy at the PAHx website here:  https://pahx.org/comic-book/.

 

 Honor a PA with a brick at the only PA Veterans Garden!

Limited space is still available to honor a military or uniformed services PA with an engraved brick paver in the only Veterans Garden to strictly honor PAs. The beautiful and tranquil garden is located at the Eugene Stead Center in Durham, North Carolina. A list of PAs who are currently servicing in the military or uniformed services, or who are veteran PAs can be found on the Society’s website along with the details on how to order an engraved paver to honor your special PA. PAHx website.

                

Stay up-to-date on all things PA history by connecting with us on social media. Please be sure to “like” PA History Society on Facebook to receive weekly updates and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and our Blog!               

                           

At NCCPA, we work to promote the role, impact and qualifications of certified PAs in many ways including through news publications. Recent media we facilitated include:

Want to get involved? If you have a great article idea or a story to share, contact Communications Director, Mary Rittle, at maryr@nccpa.net.

Career Center

PA Health Foundation

PAHx

Get the free NCCPA app!

 



Feedback and questions are always welcome. Send general inquiries and comments to nccpa@nccpa.net, or contact our President/CEO.

 
The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants is dedicated to serving the interest of the public. We do so with a passionate belief that certified physician assistants are essential members of the health care delivery team who provide millions access to more affordable, high quality health care.

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