Often Imitated Never Duplicated
Last Updated: 12 July 2019
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For as long as healthcare providers have existed, we have had to fight for core issues to our profession, our communities, and of course, our patients.
One issue is clinical competence – the centuries-old, unstoppable striving for improvement in our clinical knowledge, skills, and understanding of disease.
Every profession – allopathic physicians, osteopathic physicians, physician assistants (PAs), pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners, physical therapists – has had to prove themselves capable in the unforgiving arena that is medicine.
As individuals, many of us feel the need to prove our worth continuously to our patients, our peers, and ourselves.
In this article, author Robert M. Blumm, MA, PA, DFAAPA, PA-C Emeritus & PA Ambassador for CM&F Group, Inc. shows – specifically PAs this time – why and how we can meet these goals.
Often Imitated...Never Duplicated
Almost twenty years ago, a small group of physician assistant (PA) leaders met to address an issue core to our being. The issue was that there were many clinical positions claiming to fulfill the same professional role as a PA.
Determined to bring attention to PAs’ uniqueness, we designed a slogan that we wore on our lab coats: Often Imitated…Never Duplicated. That expression sums up who we are – with pride.
We are so much more than an organization or a profession – we are an ever-evolving mission – in constant metamorphosis, delivering cutting-edge medical care.
John F Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.
This is why we are a profession of leaders. Not all of us hold a national or state position, but we can and must continue to effect positive change.
We are faced with many choices that influence how we are perceived and how we can distinguish ourselves from other healthcare providers.
At this point in our evolution, our focus remains an absolute Commitment To Excellence. The only limits are, as always, those of vision.
I remember sitting down with Jeremy Welsh, a PA Program Director at Lynchburg University. We were waiting for a PAs For Tomorrow (PAFT) Board Meeting to begin. As fellow board members, we spoke casually, and he mentioned a vision he had of starting a Doctoral Program at Lynchburg.
Jeremy took that vision and dream and made it into a reality.
Sometimes I am asked, “why do you support that company or course or CME program?”
Support is much more than an endorsement. It is an affirmation of quality; whether for a specific program, course or degree. Simply, support is a component of excellence.
Fifty years ago, we would have never thought that a PA might need a doctorate degree, as one is not needed to practice. But advanced degrees denote a striving for excellence, as well as parity with other professions.
We are no longer an emerging profession; we are an evolving profession. And central to that evolution is the recognition of professional excellence in its many guises.
Continue to Build on your Medical Education to Improve Your Clinical Skills
There are certain programs which I recommend to all those in specialty areas or in primary care.
Among those is a pharmaceutical course which is two days in length, occurring every two years.
Of course, it is not mandatory – but yes, it will help us to better understand the newest medications and rationale for prescribing them. It will alert us to interactions and cross sensitivities as well as black box warnings.
The Art of Suturing
Many of our specialties involve the art of suturing.
I support advanced suture workshops which teach twelve or more techniques and address the “when and why” we use a technique or a certain type of suture.
I’ve hosted many such workshops for industry, PAs, and NPs for more than twenty years, and I have many talented peers who do the same. Suturing is an art – like preparing a good steak: there are many ways of doing it.
Last month, I advocated for an ultrasound course. I had no personal ties to it, but after reading the content, I felt that it was necessary in our practices.
Mastery of reading an ultrasound can mean the difference between life and death in trauma situations as well as in diagnosing a plethora of medical and surgical emergencies.
Critical Clinical Skills
Splinting and casting are essential skills. Every PA should go beyond PA school training and learn the pitfalls and techniques to prevent catastrophes such as compartment syndrome.
A surgical PA or a critical care PA must be prepared to read CT scans and MRIs. We should not need a physician to interpret these studies. We have the same capacity and obligation for excellence.
And we are now in the age of the critical care specialist. PAs shine in this arena and are highly sought-after in hospitals. They have proven to be a valuable asset to all physicians, and most importantly, to patients.
Exposure to Medicolegal Liability
Another important area of concern, which has been a personal passion of mine for many decades, is the vital issue of malpractice protection which enables PAs to practice with assurance and peace of mind.
I recommend CM&F who has supported the PA profession for decades and is endorsed by AAPA. Their product has the features and benefits which PAs need most, at very competitive rates and is underwritten by a top (A++) rated carrier.
So, what are your feelings on this topic? Our lives, both personal and professional, often leave us with little time to reflect, evaluate and engage in honest self-criticism; but we must – in order to maintain our focus on Excellence!
You are a PA-C: Often Imitated… Never Duplicated.
Blumm is a Surgical PA, National Conference Speaker, Author, Former AAPA Liaison to American College of Surgeons, Editorial Advisory Board Clinician1, Advisory Board POCN, Reviewer for Urgent Care Journal, Past President of four state and national associations. He is now retired.