April 1, 2020

Thank you for your bravery.
We are here to support you.

I wanted to reach out to each and every one of my fellow PAs and let you know we at AAPA and your state leadership are and will be with you together in this fight every step of the way. We are in an upside down world right now. One that will eventually revert back to what we are more used to, but not for a while. If you are in a place that is overwhelmed, we are proud of you and the work you are doing. You are making such a difference in every patient you see. Thank you.

So many things that used to be in our control are now beyond it. We used to give a reassuring touch or hug to our patients; we no longer can. Our masks now make it unable for us to smile at others who may need that smile. We used to be able to generally dissuade their fears; we can’t do that anymore either. We had roles that were always predictable. Not anymore. I was never afraid to practice, especially in family practice, but today I would be. We re-use protective equipment more than it was intended to be used. How do we interact with our families? Yes, we are afraid. Things have changed.

But we keep going, and we keep cheering each other and our other professional colleagues on. It’s who we are.

One thing I have noticed is that, while things have changed, we PAs really have not. What our profession always did best was fill gaps. Gaps geographically, gaps in specialties and gaps in care; jumping into almost any place that needed our help. And when COVID-19 appeared, we jumped in, most of us with both feet. While some were closing practices, we were out there looking for ways to help. Family practice PAs staffing urgent care centers; urgent care PAs staffing ERs; ER PAs staffing ICUs, or doing whatever was needed. Every specialty chipped in. We used our generalist education to go back to our roots and do whatever we could. That has always been the PA way. We have always been the stem cells of medicine. Now, more than ever, our education is evident.

Same with telling our story. Not of arrogance but because it needs to be told. Ours is not a profession of omission. “Doctors and Nurses” is not enough when PAs are also putting their lives on the line. We are not and will not be invisible. We simply ask for the recognition we deserve for doing what we knew we would do – a proverbial “Good job” every so often. And a mention once in a while. At AAPA, we are moving mountains to educate journalists so they can better write the stories that will tell our story along with the other professions most Americans are aware of. Our Communications Department has been amazing and had some wonderful results.

AAPA and PAs across the country have taken steps with legislators to remove the barriers that would have held back our ability to treat our patients at the highest level we could. We are still working with governors in some states, but to do what was needed by our patients, we needed to take away some of the restrictions on our practice that have been on the books for decades. In many cases, we have. We also worked at the federal level with the President and passed legislation in a number of areas, the most significant being Medicare changes in home health for PAs. We had been working on this for decades and it’s done. Please realize our work continues. We have a robust agenda still. Thanks to all who helped in this effort.

And to our students, we are working hard for you. Trying along with PAEA, ARC-PA, and NCCPA to figure out what is best for you and the patients you will serve. You are in our thoughts and we are always working on your behalf – know this. For now, we ask that you keep up your learning.

Sadly, we also have had a number of PAs pass away, something that makes my heart ache. We are all family. A PA who was a Rabbi and a wonderful practitioner in Brooklyn. In New Jersey, a Captain in the Army National Guard who paid the ultimate price. And I just heard about a New York PA who practiced radiology. We will miss them and others who may follow. They are us; we are them. Their memories will live on in the wonderful work they did and the lives they saved and touched. We at AAPA will be doing more soon to remember them in a formal way. Letters have or will go out to their families expressing just how much we as a profession will miss them and how much they contributed to their patients, communities, and to us all.

I need you to know that all of your leaders remain behind you. We are one profession in this together, all fighting for our patients. So many of us, both brave and scared at the same time. I am. Please reach out if you are worried. Talk to colleagues, pray, meditate – do something. Please call a colleague. And realize you have close to 150,000 sisters and brothers standing with you. We are really all in this as one. TOGETHER.

Please be careful.

David E. Mittman, PA, DFAAPA
President and Chair of the Board