Vol. 18 • Issue 7-8 • Page 5
Attendance Reels, HOD Deals at IMPACT
ATLANTA-IMPACT 2010 took place here from May 29 to June 3 and, despite featuring a contentious House of Delegates meeting, plentiful CME sessions and a bustling exhibit hall, the event drew a historically low percentage of the PA profession.
The AAPA's 38th annual PA conference drew 5,699 attendees, of whom 4,423 were PAs and PA students. Student attendees totaled about 1,000, says Greg P. Thomas, PA, MPH, senior vice president for education, membership and resource development at the AAPA.
This year's attendance figure represents less than 5% of the 74,469 PAs estimated to have been in clinical practice at the beginning of May-an astonishingly large number attendees in any other profession's convention, but a disappointing one among PAs. By comparison, IMPACT 2009 in San Diego drew 5,565 PAs, about 7.5% of the estimated 73,893 PAs in clinical practice on Jan. 1, 2009. And the 2000 PA conference in Chicago drew 5,781 PAs-a staggering 15.3% of the estimated 37,821 PAs in clinical practice on Jan. 1, 2000.
"The economy is having an impact on everybody, and whether conference attendance is employer-paid or whether it's self-financed, travel often is the first thing that is cut to save costs," Thomas says. "Atlanta may not have been the biggest draw, and then there's the holiday weekend issue," he says. While the profession is rooted in the military and still has a strong veteran influence, convening over Memorial Day might resonate less with today's PAs. "We're exploring that very carefully," Thomas says, adding that next year's Las Vegas conference dates (June 1-5) do not include Memorial Day.
The wide availability of CME also may be siphoning attendees. "It's a much more competitive market now, with CME opportunities that had been physician-only in the past being aggressively marketed to PAs," Thomas says. And for the 65% of PAs practicing outside of primary care, specialty CME may be more enticing than the AAPA conference's generalist focus. Thomas says that while specialty tracks have often been explored and may merit more discussion, the academy "will not turn it into solely a specialty conference, if for no other reason than that PAs need a general review for the recertification exam."
The AAPA House of Delegates (HOD), which met at the conference, and the board of directors (BOD) averted a showdown by reaching a compromise over power sharing. Earlier this year, academy lawyers found AAPA governing structure to be noncompliant with the law; the HOD was asked to relinquish certain historically held powers to the BOD in order to reach legal compliance-an unpopular idea among many delegates. Late in the session, the BOD offered and the HOD voted to adopt a resolution calling for a joint work group to look into a governing structure that maintains a balance of power and complies with the law.
Other key decisions were votes not to shrink the size of the HOD by a third; not to remove student voting rights in the HOD; and to adopt a resolution discouraging PAs from taking specialty certification exams.
At the opening general session, AAPA leaders hailed a number of significant policy victories and, notably, key PA involvement in the national health care reform policy debate; former TV journalist Meryl Comer in her keynote chronicled her husband's battle with Alzheimer's disease. Other conference highlights were the opening reception at the Georgia Aquarium, the PA Foundation's annual 5K Fun Run and the second annual AAPA Town Hall, during which AAPA president Stephen Hanson, president-elect Patrick Killeen and CEO Bill Leinweber fielded questions from a live audience and via e-mail and Twitter.
The team from DeSales University in Center Valley, Pa., won the National Medical Challenge Bowl for the third consecutive year.
SPAP Names Cornell Scholarship Recipient
Kimberly A. Petersen, a student at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS) PA program in North Chicago, Ill., has been chosen as the recipient of the Society for Physician Assistants in Pediatrics (SPAP) First Annual Stephen Cornell Memorial Scholarship.
Among the factors influencing Petersen's interest in a pediatrics career was the birth of her brother and sister while she was an undergraduate college freshman at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. "Some would say that I had an unfair advantage," the Waukesha, Wis., resident says. "Through the delivery and upbringing of my now 7-year-old twin siblings Grace and Cael, my path down the road of pediatrics was somewhat paved without me even knowing it." Petersen also has volunteered extensively at children's health fairs and clinics.
Petersen says that after graduation in June 2011, she plans to advocate for PAs while educating high school and college students about pediatric health care, providing "an opportunity for future health care providers to gain an understanding of the pediatric field while promoting the excellent care that PAs provide."
The scholarship is in memory of PA advocate and ADVANCE for Physician Assistants staffer Stephen Cornell, who died in 2009. "Stephen Cornell loved our profession and wrote volumes on its history and progress, but also advocated for all things that would advance our careers and visibility in the realm of medical practice," SPAP CME chair Charlene M. Morris, PA-C, wrote in her letter to Petersen. "In that spirit, we hope that you will continue to be involved with the PA profession in many different ways . and, similarly to Stephen Cornell, be an exemplary beacon for future PAs."
AFPPA Set to Launch Summer Conference
The Association of Family Practice Physician Assistants will hold its inaugural Summer CME Conference Aug. 12-14 at Washington's Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
Nationally recognized speakers will present educational sessions on a variety of clinical topics, including skin and soft tissue infections, drug abuse and a two-hour dermatology "boot camp." Optional small-group workshops will focus on orthopedic exams, suturing, joint injections and ECG interpretation, among other topics.
The event will take place within walking distance of the Ronald Reagan Building and downtown attractions such as the White House, the National Archives Building and Ford's Theatre.
The summer event becomes the third CME conference presented by the association each year. AFPPA will hold its 12th Annual Fall CME Conference and Exhibition Nov. 11-14 at Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, Colo., and will hold its Annual Spring Conference and Exhibition March 24-26, 2011, at the Charleston Marriot in Charleston, S.C.
To learn more and to register for the Summer CME Conference, visit www.afppa.org. ADVANCE for Physician Assistants is the official journal of the AFPPA.-Michael Gerchufsky