Military PAs Connect and Grow at AAPA 2018

Increased Participation Brings Updates on a Variety of Topics

June 14, 2018

By Capt Brandon Carius, Maj Adrienne Kramer, Capt Courtney Legendre, LtCol(P) Amy L. Jackson, and LtCol Amelia Duran-Stanton

The AAPA Conference in 2018 became an historic event for international military PAs. U.S. Military and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) PAs attended AAPA 2018 to demonstrate and enhance their medical knowledge. They participated by presenting and attending Continuing Medical Education (CME) events, exhibiting original research, and creating enduring connections with PAs from other services and other nations.

Medical Updates and Original Research

CPT David McDowell discusses his research and ePoster presentation
CPT David McDowell from Fort Campbell, Kentucky discusses his research and ePoster presentation on tobacco cessation initiatives in a deployed setting.

Military PAs had their largest conference contributions ever, including 14 giving medical updates on a variety of subjects, reaching up to 6,500 PAs in attendance. LtCol Johnny Paul, who is doing a fellowship with the NCCPA, stated “As an Army PA, the conference helped me to think strategically about how we can improve interservice PA education and training, as well as establish relationships and cooperation with other military services and civilian PA programs.” The Army presenters included:

  • LtCol Amelia Duran-Stanton: Musculoskeletal Injuries and Fracture Management
  • LtCol Sharon Rosser: GI Disorders
  • Maj Karen Salyars: Skin Disease/Endocrine System
  • Capt Brandon Carius: Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) compliance on soldiers
  • Capt Christy Coe: Traumatic Arrest
  • Five ePosters by LtCol(P) Amy Jackson, LtCol Duran-Stanton, Capt Brandon Carius, Capt Tracey Lyons-White and Capt David McDowell

    Military PAs join AAPA Military Service PA of the Year Awardee LtCol(P) John Detro on stage
    Military PAs join AAPA Military Service PA of the Year Awardee LtCol(P) John Detro on stage following his award.

Awards

AAPA recognized LtCol(P) John Detro with the 2018 Military Service PA of the Year Award.  His career encompasses time as a combat medic to more recent assignments as the 75th Ranger Regiment PA. He currently serves dual roles as the 187th Medical Battalion Commander and PA Consultant to the Army Surgeon General.

“It is very humbling,” Detro stated. “There are literally hundreds of military PAs worthy of this distinction.  I accept it on the behalf of all who have served, continue to serve, or will serve in the future.  Most of all, I accept this award on behalf of those PAs deployed around the world defending Freedom’s Edge.”

Uniformed Service Symposium (USS) and Veterans Caucus Memorial Service

The USS extended “team practice” medicine concepts to two inaugural collaboration forums.  CAF PAs

Capt Stuart Russelle and Capt Wendy Strain
Capt Stuart Russelle (left) and Capt Wendy Strain, Canadian Armed Forces PAs, discussed opportunities and challenges during the Uniformed Services Symposium.

participated as panelists in the first international forum to discuss challenges and lessons learned as front line providers. The first joint service panel with Army and Air Force PAs discussed interservice challenges and approaches to military medicine and professional development. Other topics included the growth and success of women in competitive fields, injury screening initiatives, and musculoskeletal injuries and fractures commonly found in the military. These sessions, consisting of current, former, and prospective military PAs, as well as civilian PAs, produced the largest USS audiences to date.

Capt Shameice Fischer, a first-time conference attendee, said “It was a great opportunity for junior PAs to network with other peers and senior PAs alike… [and] a great chance for junior PAs to have a great dialogue about how we see things from our foxholes with our senior leadership.”

Capt Garrett Larson served as the Army representative for the multiservice color guard at the Veterans Caucus Memorial Service. “The respect I was given has solidified my membership for the remainder of my life,” Capt Larson stated.  “I encourage all of my colleagues to attend at least one [AAPA] conference prior to leaving the military.  This has opened my eyes as to what is taking place in our profession and also opened several doors for my post-military career that I had not considered.”

Advocacy

Col Pauline Gross, LtCol Thomas Bingamon, Maj Ben Kocher, and Mr. Bob Potter joined in the House of Delegates’ support to investigate a name change for PAs. This decision follows last year’s historic vote to adopt Optimal Team Practice as the state model legislation, which closely mirrors the way military PAs already practice. Increased legislative advocacy will allow PAs to practice at the top of their license and will increase access to care and help patients across the country.

Recruiting

Army PAs meet to sign the first published copies of the Army PA Handbook
Army PAs meet to sign the first published copies of the Army PA Handbook. From L to R foreground: LtCol David Broussard, LtCol(P) John Detro (back turned), LtCol Sharon Rosser, Maj Ben Kocher. From L to R background: LtCol Scott Harrison, Col David Hamilton, Col Pauline Gross, and LtCol Christopher Pase.

The AAPA conference served as a great platform for military PAs to reach out to the civilian PA population. U.S. Army Medical Department Recruiting spoke to more than 100 PAs regarding not only monetary and education benefits, but also unique opportunities and environments that Army PAs operate in to master their skills while serving those who serve our country.

The First Army PA Handbook

Providentially, a few commemorative copies of the first edition of the long awaited Army Physician Assistant Handbook were released from Borden Institute the week prior to AAPA 2018 and well-laid plans to reveal them were carried out successfully.  Ten authors who were in attendance ceremoniously conducted a signing of handbooks for distribution to significant contributors.

Conclusion

AAPA 2018 provided a great opportunity for military PAs to present and demonstrate medical knowledge and unique perspectives, as well as develop professionally and clinically.  The conference facilitated interaction with civilian counterparts to share challenges and opportunities.  After strong participation in AAPA 2017 in Las Vegas, increased attendance and participation in AAPA 2018 illustrates a positive trend of professional involvement by military PAs. Looking towards AAPA 2019 in Denver, this growth is likely to continue, to the benefit of military and civilian PAs alike.

Resources:

American Academy of Physician Assistants: https://www.aapa.org

Borden Institute publishes first ever Army Physician Assistant Handbook: https://www.army.mil/article/202130/borden_institute_publishes_first_ever_army_physician_assistants_handbook

Interservice Physician Assistant Program, AMEDDCS HRCoE: http://www.cs.amedd.army.mil/ipap/

U.S. Army Physician Assistant Handbook: http://www.cs.amedd.army.mil/borden/bookDetail.aspx?ID=82149703-916d-4e40-a67e-2881814a6f21&pageTitle=US Army Physician Assistant Handbook

U.S. Army Recruiting Command – Interservice Physician Assistant Program: http://www.usarec.army.mil/armypa/index.shtml