Michigan Leading the Way for Physician Assistants
When they asked where I was from on my first day of graduate school classes in Philadelphia my right hand instinctively shot up in typical Michigander fashion, “I’m from a city in Michigan right about here,” pointing to the middle of my palm, “It’s called Battle Creek.” My professor’s excitement was visible, she explained that Michigan was a good place for PAs to work because a new law was passed allowing greater practice authority which went into effect this year. I had known this bill: Public Act 379. It was an excellent leap forward for PAs that would allow for greater access for patients, less regulation for doctors, and fewer hurdles for midlevel providers to clear as they attempt to care for patients. My Michigan pride swelled with my classes clear admiration for these new practice guidelines. It’s as if I took a mini mental break from Philly and traveled back home, to my city, where concrete jungles were replaced with pine trees and pigeons become black squirrels, mourning doves, and bluebirds. It’s possible that during this mental break Tim Allen’s voice began narrating a new Pure Michigan commercial authored, however poorly, by me in the moment: “It’s same-day appointments, it’s providers returning the phone call, it’s scripts at your pharmacy and sick children seen not a week from today but now. It’s pregnant mothers cared for and teens educated about their health. It’s your grandparent’s checkup and your annual exam. It’s Michigan making a bold step forward for Physician Assistants. It’s Pure Michigan.”
It’s a bit wordy, I know and I’ll work with the scriptwriters when they call (I’m waiting by the phone). And if you’ve never seen one of these commercials, see the video below, it’s well worth it.
This move toward collaborative instead of supervisory language is good news for Michigan. PA students want to come here to practice which means all those benefits listed above. In addition, the timing, whether purposeful or coincidental, is similarly symbolic. This October 6th PAs across the nation are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the inaugural class of PA students from Duke University in 1967.
From just 4 students to now more than 115,000 practitioners the field was bound to experience some changes and it’s to our benefit Michigan is staying ahead of the curve. Michigan is leading the country in legislation and general support of midlevel providers as PAs all over this great state work to support families, prevent disease, have healthier pregnant mothers, and safer deliveries.
So this October, when you next visit your provider if you find yourself under the weather or the flu season has gotten to you first– take a look at the white coat of your provider, it just may read PA-C. Wish them a Happy National PA Day and then maybe say a prayer for me as I bury my head in medical textbooks for the next two more years.