PA Student Says Step Up for Profession

Become a Student Delegate to Influence PA Policies

September 12, 2018

By Hillary Bennett, PA-S

Hillary Bennett, PA-S
Hillary Bennett, PA-S

My mother taught me to “be the change you wish to see in the world.” It’s a quote we’ve all heard, but it was engrained in me by my mother, who served as a councilwoman in Weleetka, Oklahoma. She believes fully in these words and her belief in advocacy as a vehicle for change is why I’ve served as an AAPA House of Delegates (HOD) student delegate the past two years. As a future PA, the HOD is a place where my voice is heard and my testimony influences the future direction of our profession. I have witnessed changes occur due to the passionate advocacy of PAs. PA student advocacy is essential to the advancement of PA practice because we offer an important perspective.

Former student delegate Sarah Murawski put it this way: “Students are constantly practicing critical thinking and creativity. Because of this, we have an incredible ability to think of creative compromises to get to ‘yes’ during the HOD.”

The AAPA House of Delegates is comprised of approximately 300 voting delegates from state and federal service chapters, specialty organizations, caucuses, and the Student Academy. Under AAPA’s shared governance structure, the HOD has sole authority on behalf of AAPA to enact policies establishing the collective values, philosophies, and principles of the PA profession. Resolutions debated in the House of Delegates provide AAPA with a foundation to advocate for policy changes on the state and national level. Recent examples include the Title Change Investigation and Optimal Team Practice.

The House of Delegates also provides a network for invaluable relationships. Through the HOD I have established connections with national, state, and student leaders from all over the United States. I have also met mentors, fellow students, and some of my closest friends while working in the HOD.

At the 2018 Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, the student delegation proposed two resolutions, both of which were adopted by the HOD and became AAPA policy. Policy HP-3200.5.5 supports initiatives for increased funding for development and operation of PA programs at historically black colleges and universities, predominantly black institutions, Hispanic-serving institutions, and rural-serving institutions. Policy HP-3200.5.6 supports initiatives for increased federal loan limits to provide parity with loan limits available to other healthcare professional students. As the student chief delegate, I look forward to building upon this foundation as we continue to represent patients, students, and PAs. It is my objective to educate fellow students, since we are the future of the PA profession.

Student delegates at the 2018 HOD meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana
Student delegates at the 2018 HOD meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.

If you are a passionate advocate for our profession, there are a number of PA student leadership opportunities in the HOD: the student delegate application for the 2019 HOD is open until September 30. Any PA student member can apply for a position on the student delegation. Student delegate candidates are elected by the Student Academy Board of Directors. Once elected, the student delegation represents the voice of PA students from across the country. I encourage you step up and volunteer.

I hope to see you at AAPA 2019 in Denver!

Hillary Bennett is the chief delegate of the student delegation and sits on the Student Academy Board of Directors. She is a second-year PA student at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and was a student delegate at the 2016 and 2017 HOD meetings. She can be reached at [email protected].