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I'm going to make a statement at the bottom of this and I'm interested in your take on it. I will say that I'm not dogmatic on it. But in 1981, when I began my career as a PA we were told, "Soon the world will know who we are and respect our profession."

After completing a 38 year career, recently I had two conversations with laypeople that stood out to me. These were both college educated, but older 60s and 70s. Both are recent (1-2 year) friends.

The first one made the comment, "PAs can't have independent judgement, but only carry out the specific orders of a doctor whereas the NP (whom he sees) can think for herself."

The second, who knows I've had a long career as a PA, said, when I told him I couldn't have coffee because I was volunteering to do COVID vaccinations he acted very surprised, "I thought only nurses and doctors were trained in giving shots. Have you ever done this before?"

"Of course," I said. "I gave dozens of shots every day, mostly in the head and neck." He was very surprised that my training qualified me to do something this simple.

I know we have a lot of people coming here who are trying to decide if they want to go the PA route. I also realize that much has indeed improved since 1981. However, if I were in high school or early days of college (didn't get interested in medicine until after undergrad) I would have chosen the MD route. Here is the reason and prospective PAs need to understand this.

If you are a PA, society will always assume that you are dumber than you really are. If you are a physician, society will always assume you are smarter than you really are.

So, do you think that above statement is true?

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And AAPA and your HOD just blew the opportunity to give a title to make an appropriate impression on patients, legislators and administrators. I think PAs were actually respected more by general population 30 years ago than today. You are no better understand and new title will be a battle. Congratulations! 

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2 hours ago, Hope2PA said:

And AAPA and your HOD just blew the opportunity to give a title to make an appropriate impression on patients, legislators and administrators. I think PAs were actually respected more by general population 30 years ago than today. You are no better understand and new title will be a battle. Congratulations! 

I have seen the enemy and he is us.

 

I think your statement succinctly summarizes the situation.

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I really haven't ever had anyone dis the PA profession to my face.  I've had plenty of people tell me they preferred PAs and/or NPs to MD/DOs because we actually listen to the patients.  But this might be because all my specialties are high-touch, rather than high-tech.  People like me because I explain complex stuff in simple terms, which is one of my key skillsets.

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Truer words have never been spoken.   Almost daily, I am asked when the real doctor is coming in.

However, the lack of advertising from both the AAPA as well as hospital admin is a disservice as well.  You don't hear about the chief of staff doing advertisements on TV.  No posters on the wall.  Doctors and nurses are "heroes" and assistants ain't.  

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Another interesting take on this, I'm writing a novel (thriller) with a PA protagonist. I just finished a phase where I had beta readers (like a focus group for writers) read it and give me feed-back. All three non-PA readers, one with a PhD in creative writing, one with a PhD in sociology and teaches at a small college and the third, all non medical, made the same tone of comments. The PA's role seems unrealistic, steps outside his boundaries, doesn't get permission from the doctor for some of the things he's done. I've painted the role of the PA in very realistic terms, with him either doing things I've done (in the developing world) or have seen other PAs do. But this is how much of the general public still sees the PA role.

I wouldn't call any of the states about PAs as disparaging, but just misinformed. If I had a dollar for every person I had to inform correctly what a PA really is over the past four decades . . . well, I would be sitting beside Jeff and Mark Bezos on their ride into space. That is also what I hope to accomplish (second to entertaining) with my book.

 

Edited by jmj11
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Just now, Arthropathy said:

I don't really care what the general public thinks or knows.

The HR folks who make hiring decisions at many places are members of the public...all they know is Practitioner> assistant and DNP>mpas

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7 hours ago, jmj11 said:

All three non-PA readers, one with a PhD in creative writing, one with a PhD in sociology and teaches at a small college and the third, all non medical, made the same tone of comments.

Extremely interesting.

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