Applauding our physician assistants: National PA Week

A big round of applause to all DMU physician assistant students, alumni, faculty and staff during National PA Week, Oct. 6-12. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds acknowledged these health care providers on Oct. 4 by signing a proclamation praising their “quality, cost-effective and accessible patient-centered health care” and contributions as “often the first point of contact for many patients.”

As she signed the document, those surrounding her included members of DMU’s physician assistant program Class of 2020; Jodi Cahalan, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S., PA-C, DFAAPA, dean of the College of Health Sciences; Laura Delaney, M.P.A.S., PA-C, director of clinical education for the PA program; Rachel Doggett, M.P.A.S., PA-C, who practices in the DMU Clinic; Angela Grundmeyer, M.S.P.A.S., PA-C, assistant professor; Holland Taylor, M.S.P.A., PA-C, assistant director of the program; and Kenna Willey, M.P.A.S., PA-C, assistant professor.

“Physician assistants have come a long way in the short time the profession has been around. PA providers have earned the respect of the general public for their dedication and contribution to the medical team in caring for those in need,” Ms. Delaney says. “PAs have and will continue to work in team-based practices to their full level of training, working alongside physicians. I am proud to be a PA and to be part of the team educating our next generation of PA providers.”

National PA Day was first celebrated on Oct. 6, 1987, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the first graduating class of PAs from the Duke University PA program. Des Moines University enrolled the first students in its PA program in 1981; it’s the second-oldest academic program at the University, after the doctor of osteopathic medicine program.

As the proclamation explained, PAs are “academically and clinically prepared medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans and often serve as a patient’s principal health care provider.” The proclamation noted the “vital role” physician assistants play in helping patients “understand their medical needs” and in empowering them to “become effective advocates for their own health.” Also noted was the care PAs provide in medically underserved and rural areas.

“It was an exciting and unique experience to be witness to the proclamation signing by Governor Kim Reynolds indicating the beginning of PA Week,” says Stacy Overman, a student in the program. “We were able to celebrate this honor with current PAs, DMU faculty and students, and it was meaningful to be recognized for the important role PAs hold in providing care to the community.”

According to the American Association of Physician Assistants, patients who haven’t been treated by a PA in the past have a good chance they will in the near future. More than 123,000 PAs currently work across the nation, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the profession to grow 37 percent – much faster growth than on average for occupations – between 2016 and 2036.

DMU’s 1,066 PA graduates practice in 45 states, including 425 here in Iowa. Many of these alumni serve as critical preceptors for PA students. Are you a physician assistant who is interested in helping train these outstanding students to become exceptional health care providers? Contact Laura Delaney at 515-271-1060 or laura.delaney@dmu.edu.