February 21, 2020
PA Students Help Push Back Practice Barriers in Colorado
By Christopher Whitcomb, PA-S
According to the American Academy of PA’s (AAPA) Six Key Elements, Colorado is dragging behind the country with three of the Six Key Elements that are needed to ensure that all PAs are practicing at the top of their education and experience. The original Colorado PA law was enacted in 1983 to both ensure patient safety and to recognize the burgeoning PA profession. As a result of that original legislation, the medical board at the time created rules for the profession known as Rule 400.
The rule rigidly mandates how often a new PA (or one that changes practice settings) must meet with their physician and how many charts must be reviewed – to the point that some new PAs decide to practice elsewhere.
Beginning last year, the Colorado Academy of PAs (CAPA) together with AAPA has decided that it’s time to push back and get rid of certain antiquated elements of state law and Rule 400. Earlier this year CAPA sought legislation that added PAs to many parts of Colorado state law. Last month, CAPA and AAPA took aim at Rule 400 and its impact on students.
On August 10th I was approached by Adam Peer* to help round up PA students who wanted to champion these changes. He shared with me that in his experience students often have the most compelling arguments at hearings and usually garner much more interest from policy-makers, like the state medical board. Upon hearing this I was fired up, I immediately went to work with CAPA reps from both Colorado PA programs and was blown away when each school cranked out a letter in support within 2 days.
On August 18th – just 8 days from when Adam initially made contact – we sent four students to the hearing. As fate would have it— the medical board was only hearing testimony on prescriptive authority. However, this was not a total loss, the board was so impressed by the student turnout that they decided to schedule a hearing in November with a much larger room where all stakeholders can participate. From my understanding this was unprecedented. Currently, we are waiting to hear more on when this hearing will be and how as students we can best support CAPA and AAPA’s efforts.
If I can leave you with one thing it is that you as a student can make a difference. If you disagree with a current law in your state, say something, speak up, get passionate, and step up. As students, we have a huge voice, but that same voice can stand in shadows if we do not choose to use it.
Please join me in this fight; I know that Dr. Eugene Stead would be blown away at the progress we have made, but we are far from being done!
Please reach out to me if you want to help get involved.
*Adam Peer – Director, AAPA’s Constituent Organization Outreach & Advocacy (COOA)
Christopher Whitcomb, PA-S
University of Colorado
Student Academy of AAPA Western Regional Director | 2016-17
Student Health Policy Fellow | PAEA | 2016-17