Requirements Lessened for New Grad PAs in Colorado

Proposed Medical Board Rule Change Helps New Grads in Colorado

By Michael Hugus, PA-S

Michael Hugus, PA-S
Michael Hugus, PA-S

It may get easier for newly-graduated PAs to get hired in Colorado! Through the relentless work of the Colorado Academy of PAs (CAPA) and AAPA, many of the outdated rules which placed a significant regulatory burden on new grads may improve – making it significantly easier for employers to hire new PAs in the Mile-High State.

For years now, CAPA and AAPA advocated updating these onerous new grad requirements – known as “Rule 400” in Colorado. Rule 400 states that a supervising physician must practice on site with newly graduated PAs for their first 1000 hours of practice. The rule also requires supervising physicians to review the first 500 charts of new PAs. Even experienced PAs switching specialties experience a similar form of “enhanced supervision.”

These requirements placed a large burden on our physician colleagues and future employers. Some newly graduated PAs have even had to leave Colorado after graduation because the requirements made it too difficult to find work.

This issue came into sharp focus for me as I considered graduation and joining other new PAs in the Colorado job market. Luckily, students and faculty from my program at Red Rocks and the PA program at the University of Colorado were able to play a role in getting this onerous rule reviewed by the Colorado Medical Board.

Change came about when the Medical Board saw that it needed to revise its rules due to pro-PA legislation sought by CAPA and AAPA. At several meetings, students engaged directly with our Medical Board members to tell their stories of how these rules were driving new grads to find jobs outside of Colorado. We saw the opportunity, took advantage of it, and it worked! These meetings led to additional stakeholder meetings, discussions, drafts, and, ultimately, consensus to improve the new grad rules.

The proposed changes decrease on-site supervision requirements from 1000 working hours to 160, only 25 percent of which must be conducted by the primary supervising physician. While the new rules are not perfect, they are greatly improved, and I’m excited about the possibilities as a new grad in Colorado.

Michael Hugus is a PA student at Red Rocks Community College in Arvada, Colorado. He can be reached at [email protected].