NC Chapter Builds Relationships with Legislators, PA Programs
2018 Advocacy Award Recipient Hosts PA Program Visits
May 25, 2018
By Abby Boshart
The North Carolina Academy of PAs (NCAPA) is the 2018 recipient of AAPA’s Outreach and Advocacy Awards for Advancing the PA Identity. These awards are presented each year to recognize constituent organizations (COs) for their outstanding programs, projects and initiatives.
In 2016, NCAPA hosted a PA Day event at the North Carolina Legislature and quickly realized that most legislators lacked a deep understanding of the PA profession. Concerned by their discovery, NCAPA designed a plan to develop better relationships with lawmakers and help them understand more about the PA profession.
“NCAPA was looking for a memorable way of connecting with legislators. We also recognized that without identified legislative champions it would be difficult to move any legislative agenda forward,” said Samantha Rogers, President of NCAPA.
NCAPA’s Government Affairs Committee, lobbyist, and Executive Director, Emily Adams, planned several PA Program Visits throughout the state for legislators in their own districts. NCAPA began reaching out to program directors and faculty and provided resources to help plan the visits.
The visits typically consisted of a welcome assembly featuring introductions and brief presentations from both PA Program faculty and NCAPA representatives. Lawmakers were then taken on a tour of the program facilities and participated in a discussion about issues facing PAs.
“Hosting legislators in their own districts, while showcasing educational opportunities and highlighting how PAs can meet some of the healthcare demands facing North Carolina has been a great way to build new relationships,” Adams said. “These visits proved much more valuable than we could imagine. We were aware of gaps in understanding and awareness of PA practice and were very pleased with the level the interest legislators had in learning more about PAs.”
Several PA Programs in the state were able to host these events and received tremendous responses from legislators, including one who pledged her support at the conclusion on her visit.
The PA students proved to be one of the most compelling elements of these visits. They participated as tour guides, answered questions and provided a face to the future of the profession.
“Meeting with legislators is valuable because it allows me the privilege to help my colleagues shape the future of our profession,” says Alec Ted Sims, PA-S, a member of the Wingate PA Program Class of 2018. “The changes we make today impact the way I will practice for the next 30-40 years.”
These visits would also not have been possible without the commitment of PA Programs and their faculty.
“It is vitally important that we model behavior regarding advocacy for the profession and these visits provided an avenue to do just that,” says Linda Sekhon, DHSc, PA-C, founding chair of the High Point University Department of PA Studies. “These visits align with accreditation standards to promote professionalism to our students.”
As the NCAPA looks ahead to their 2019 legislative agenda, they have strengthened bonds within the North Carolina PA community and have created more allies for the profession.
Abby Boshart is the communication coordinator at AAPA. Contact her at [email protected].