Continuing to Move the PA Profession Forward

A new version of AAPA’s “Guidelines for State Regulation of PAs,” adopted by the AAPA House of Delegates (HOD) at the AAPA 2016 Conference in May, continues the march toward a more progressive view of PA practice, reflecting changes in the practice of medicine and the growing roles of PAs. Originally adopted in 1988, and amended periodically to reflect the evolution of PA practice, the guidelines describe the collective values, philosophies and principles of the PA profession as they relate to state regulation of PAs.

The newly approved guidelines, which were amended slightly in the HOD before being adopted, provide that PA scope of practice should consist of activities for which the PA is prepared by education and experience, do not tie PA scope of practice to a physician’s, do not require physician delegation, replace references to physician “supervision” with “collaboration,” and repeal the requirement that physicians should be responsible for PA-provided care. One of the most dynamic amendments authorizes state constituent organizations (COs) to pursue even more progressive provisions that would increase PA practice authority, should the opportunity arise.

The revised guidelines were developed and submitted to the HOD by AAPA’s Commission on Government Relations and Practice Advancement (GRPA), chaired by Heather Trafton, MPAS, PA-C. A five-person work group, consisting of PAs from various parts of the country and diverse practice settings, drafted the revisions to the guidelines.

The new guidelines follow a substantial revision last summer to a companion document, AAPA’s Model State Legislation for PAs (Model Law). Those amendments modernized language around PA practice, by defining PA scope of practice as determined by the PAs education and experience, repealing scope determination by physician delegation, abandoning language requiring that a physician be responsible for PA-provided care and aligning the Model Law with new AAPA policies, such as replacing the term “supervision” with “collaboration” and utilizing the term “PA” throughout the legislation.

The changes to both the Model Law and the guidelines will provide essential and beneficial guidance to AAPA’s state constituent organizations (COs) as they work with their state legislators and regulatory agencies to improve the regulation of the profession and remove barriers to access-to-care in state laws and regulations.