August 7, 2020
PA Students: Want to be a Leader? Start Leading at AAPA!
11 Ways You Can Get Involved
By Cooper Couch, PA-S
February 28, 2020
If there’s anyone who knows the importance of time management, it’s a PA student. With all the assignments, last-minute schedule changes, back-to-back exams, and never-ending deadlines, being efficient with our time is paramount to our success – not to mention our physical and mental well-being. Whether we realize it or not, we make choices on a daily basis that reflect our priorities: to go exercise with a friend or study for another half hour; to scroll mindlessly through social media or limit distractions while studying; to ignore messages from family and friends because of that exam tomorrow; or respond to schedule a better time to catch up. You’re probably asking yourself whether you even have time to read this article!
I hope to inspire and empower PA students to make time for one more priority ̶ advocating for themselves, their patients, and the PA profession. While our main priority is undoubtedly learning to practice medicine, there are countless opportunities for us to influence how we practice medicine through leadership and advocacy at the state and national levels. I wholeheartedly believe that every PA student has the capacity to be an outstanding leader and advocate once they have made the adjustment to PA school. In fact, for many programs, leadership and advocacy experience are prerequisites! As students, choosing involvement with our profession as a priority makes us more likely to stay involved throughout our career. And, we graduate better prepared to build upon the PA profession’s successes and affect positive change for our patients.
Setting aside some dedicated time from our studies to stay current on what’s happening within the PA profession and healthcare is an investment in our profession’s future. Whether that involves reading the latest news in Advocacy Central or News Central, connecting with an experienced PA leader to learn from their experiences, or building a network of like-minded, advocacy-focused PAs by attending state and national events, it’s all a step in the right direction. As the future generation of PAs, it’s up to us to carry the flag. Here is a list of some of the many ways you can get involved:
- Build your network by attending the 2020 AAPA Conference in Nashville this May.
- Volunteer to be a teller for the 2020 House of Delegates meeting in Nashville.
- Participate in the AAPA National Medical Challenge Bowl – team registration is now open.
- Check out AAPA’s Mentor Match and connect with your ideal PA mentor.
- Encourage your elected officials to support PA-positive legislation through the Advocacy Action Center.
- Visit your State, U.S. Territory, and/or Federal Service Chapter website and explore opportunities for student involvement. Most states host their own conference, and many even offer a statewide student challenge bowl.
- Interested in a particular specialty? Get involved with a Specialty Organization.
- Looking for PAs and PA students who share a common interest? Check out the Special Interest Groups.
- Want to get involved in improving healthcare access or delivery for a specific population? Maybe a Caucus is for you.
- Make plans to attend AAPA’s annual Leadership & Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. next year. So many students signed up this year that we had to start a waitlist!
- Want to run for a national student leadership position? Visit the AAPA Elections page for information on the Student Academy Board of Directors Election.
Regardless of where you are in your journey to becoming a PA, I hope you’ll take a moment to consider how you can take the next step in your development as a leader and advocate for the PA profession.
When not in school, Cooper spends his time back home in Colorado with his fiancé Martin and their cattle dog Mila. They enjoy long-distance running, cooking, hiking, camping, traveling, and volunteering together. Cooper can be reached at [email protected].