We Are PAFT!
The mission of PA's For Tomorrow is to advocate for the Physician Associate/Assistant Profession by empowering PAs to be the leader in promoting a better tomorrow for all PA's.
The mission of PA's For Tomorrow is to advocate for the Physician Associate/Assistant Profession by empowering PAs to be the leader in promoting a better tomorrow for all PA's.
Since our inception, PAs for Tomorrow has continually developed professional policy statements, keeping pressure on the leadership of AAPA, and leading the profession in change. Our statements on Optimal Team Practice (originally Full Practice Authority and Responsibility) and PA Title Change (originally Title of PA) eventually became resolutions and/or policy of the American Academy of Physician Associates.
PAs for Tomorrow expresses the concern of employers, institutions, and administrators using terms or titles other than PAs or physician associates/assistants to describe PA profession. Using a title other than the proper name could be considered paternalistic, disrespectful, and marginalizing.
PAs are proud to be uniquely trained in the medical model to diagnose, treat, prescribe, order, and perform procedures. PAs allow access to care in many areas that would otherwise not have medical treatment.
Since 1987, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the first PA class graduating from Duke University, PA Week has been celebrated every October. Physician Associates are important members of the medical landscape and should be recognized and celebrated as such. PA's or Physician Associates/Assistants.
Dr. Kris Pyles-Sweet, DMSc, PA-C
President, PAs for Tomorrow
Vice-President & Chief Delegate, Geriatric Medicine PAs
Founder, Modern Medical Aesthetics and Wellness
Founder, Modern Medical House Calls
Kris Pyles-Sweet is a 1999 PA graduate of Kettering College (Ohio), with her undergrad from Miami University in Ohio. She also has a Masters of Science degree from AT Still University, specializing in education and leadership. She has a diverse background in dermatology, endocrinology, and rural health. She has spent most of her career in rural, military, Indian, underserved and indigent populations all over the United States. She has also remained active in PA chapters in states in which she resides.
Currently, she is on the Government Affairs Committee of North Carolina Academy of PAs, while most recently spent many years on the Membership and CME committees for Texas Academy of PAs. She enjoys being a peer-reviewer for JAAPA, Clinician Reviews, and various committees for NCCPA, PA Foundation, and AAPA. Past committees include a member of the PAFT National Task Force For PA Autonomy (NTFPA), and co-authored a position paper on OTP.
A strong advocate for the PA and the PA profession, she is the founder of two practices, Modern Medical House Calls and Metroplex Visiting Physicians in Texas, and resides in North Carolina.
Scott Stegall is a 1990 graduate of the US Army PA Training Program. After retiring in 1996 he settled with his family in East Texas where he resides stil with his wife of 17 years and near his children and grandchildren.
Dr. Stegall has been a passionate advocate for the PA profession serving in various positions with the Texas Academy of PAs, The PA Business Alliance of Texas, PAs Caring for Texas, and PAs for Tomorrow among others. He currently resides in Tyler TX and works in Urgent Care
My name is Adam Buzzerd PA-C and I have been a Physician Assistant for the past twenty years. I graduated from King’s College ( Wilkes-Barre,Pa) PA program in 1999. I have served as a medical officer overseas with the Department of Defense for four years with Operation Enduring Freedom.
I then completed the Duke PA Surgical Residency in 2005 focusing on Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery. The bulk of my career has been working as a CT surgery PA. I currently work and live in Knoxville Tennesse with my wife and two young children. In my shrinking spare time, I am busy working on our small farm.
I decided to become involved with the PAFT as I feel that there needs to be changes and improvements with the public’s exposure and awareness of our profession and also among our medical colleagues. I look forward to working with you on all issues in the coming months to improve the career path for both the current and the next generation of Physician Assistants.
Mary Kay Bishop graduated in 2000 from UT Southwestern Medical Center, School of Health Professions. She has worked in General Internal Medicine, as well as Gastroenterology. Mary Kay is currently on an extended sabbatical, while getting a small business up and running. During this time away from clinical practice, she is maintaining relationships and working on PA issues.
Mary Kay is a passionate advocate for moving the PA profession forward, which lead her to joining PAs for Tomorrow and becoming a member of the Board as a Director-at-Large. She is a Huddle Volunteer for the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Mary Kay has recently worked on the Membership and CME committees for the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants.
Prior to becoming a PA, Mary Kay worked in the business sector for a few years after graduating from Texas A&M University. Soon after, she married and became a professional volunteer. She has chaired or participated in various church, school and community organizations and committees. She continued volunteering after she entered the medical field. Her interests in volunteering have centered around women and children’s issues.
Mary Kay is an accomplished knitter, sewist and cook and she tries to engage in these activities as much as possible. She and husband enjoy traveling, both domestically and internationally.
I am a second year student at the University of Lynchburg PA Medicine student and PAFTs student director. I completed my undergraduate studies at Salisbury University with a Bachelor’s of Science in respiratory therapy. From then on I worked clinically at UVA Medical Centers in various critical care and acute care services. I’ve always aspired to become a PA since high school and it’s great to finally actualize that dream!
I have always been passionate about leadership and excited to transition that into my role as student director.
I have been a practicing PA for 19 years. I graduated from Midwestern University, Downers Grove, IL in 2001. While at Midwestern, I founded the PAs for Rural Medicine Organization. We sought to increase awareness of rural medical issues such as farming accidents, skin cancer, decreased access to care, etc. Upon graduation, I have worked in Plastic Surgery, Dermatology and primary care.
I have practiced in both rural and urban areas. I co-founded the Utah State Chapter of Dermatology PAs in 2003 and served as the Chair for the State Chapter Affiliate Committee for the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants in 2004-2005. I earned my Masters in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Nebraska in 2004 with a concentration in dermatology.
I remained active in the SDPA and received the Diplomate status in 2012 and maintain that status currently.As I am a military spouse, I’ve done a lot of job searching over the years and have seen first hand PAs being squeezed out of the job market. It was with my most recent move, that this “trend” became very worrisome with jobs advertisers actively seeking non-PAs only. Additionally, it was my time to ‘re-certify’ and as I have been in specialty medicine for over 18 years, I opted to take the PILOT exam.
I am always disheartened, as a dermatology PA, that my ability to practice dermatology is tied to whether or not I can read an EKG or discern the type of Salter-Harris fracture. It was at this point that I decided to join PAs for Tomorrow with an earnest desire to change the trajectory of our profession for the better.
I ran for and was elected as the newest Director at Large. I look forward to working with other like minded PAs for the advancement of OTP, removing High Stakes Testing, and pursuing other issues that our PA colleagues face.
Austin Hamilton is currently a second year PA student at the University of Lynchburg School of PA Medicine. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Human Development from Virginia Tech in 2015. After graduating from Virginia Tech, he obtained patient care experience, working full-time as an ER tech and part-time as a medical scribe, in a critical access emergency department located in West Virginia.
Austin is very passionate about PA advocacy and hopes to increase student involvement and advocacy during his time as PAFT Student Director. He looks forward to working with the other PAFT board members over the next year, and hopes to continue working with organization after graduation.
Jonathan practices medicine as a PA in Thurston County, Washington, where he currently splits his time between eating disorders care with The Emily Program, and Occupational and Family medicine at ErgoCare Clinic. Since his 2012 graduation from Pacific University’s PA program, he has experience in urgent care, sleep medicine, pain management, travel medicine, medical ethics, and rural primary care. Jonathan is currently a doctoral student at A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Science. Prior to PA school, Jonathan worked as a volunteer Firefighter/EMT and as an information security specialist. He continues to serve as Chief EMS officer and teach EMT classes for his fire department.
The PAs for Tomorrow Past President Advisory Council Consists of all PAFT members that have served at least one day on the board as Immediate Past President. They are lifetime fellow members of PAFT and advise the President and Board of matter only when asked. The council is a permanent committee of PAFT, chaired by the current immediate past president.
Members of Past Presidency Counsel
Dr. Eric Holden
Dr. Frank Crosby
Dr. Scott Stegall
Originally posted September 2014
PAs for Tomorrow recognizes that in the United States, a degree is used to evaluate and measure many different things. To the public, an educational degree offers reassurance, as it infers some level of professional and clinical competence. To the insurance industry, a degree ensures that the clinician is educated to a level that is reimbursable. To the educator, it demonstrates that the clinician has completed the preparation needed to attain the said degree. To all of those entities, regardless of the profession, the doctorate level degree is a sign of a mature profession and professional. PA education has historically been more clinically than academically or administratively oriented. Our programs have long been standardized and have produced a proven product in the graduate PA. Whether the PA earned a certificate in the 1960s, an associate’s degree in the 1970s, a bachelor’s degree in the 1990s or a master’s degree in the 2000s, PA education has not changed considerably and has remained excellent.
The Duke PA program model has stood the test of time. While our educational model has remained much the same, the profession has changed considerably. PAs are practicing in more specialties than ever before, practicing in ways never considered and are maturing as clinicians. Part of that evolution and maturation has also been in the administrative and academic realms. In short, our profession is more multifaceted than ever before. The US healthcare market has changed at an unprecedented rate and PA education needs to respond and shift with that pace. It is the belief of PAFT that the clinical component of our education will no longer be enough to shape the full PA of the future regarding their total scope of practice. Our medical model of training affords graduate PAs a tested and tried skillset in the delivery of healthcare services upon graduation. Comparison of PA education and medical school education reveals an interesting similarity in terms of hours, especially given recent proposals to expedite medical school training to a three-year course of study. Given the expedited nature of the PA model, the number of hours a PA graduate spends in their professional program is, on average, a mere 8 weeks less than the typical four-year medical school graduate.
The hourly comparison does not account for curriculum differences, however; the proposed compressed three-year medical school graduate may likely appear strikingly similar to the curriculum that has produced successful PAs for nearly 50 years. Even without expanding to a doctorate level degree, a present-day PA graduate might theoretically have more hours in their respective program than the three-year medical school graduate of tomorrow. Given the historic resistance of institutionalized medicine to entertain development of a fast–tract PA-to-MD program or to allow PAs entrance into formalized MD residency programs, it seems the most progressive route to expand the PA profession’s graduate-level opportunities will be via our own established and very structured PA educational pathways. As per history, when organized medicine declined our progress, PAs created their own in the form of degree advancement, educational resources created by for the benefit of PAs, and post-graduate development of PA residency training among other self-realized advancements. Nearly all medical professions that were at the bachelor’s or master’s degree level 40 years ago are at the doctorate level today. These professions include pharmacists, psychologists, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, occupational therapists, audiologists, naturopathists and more. PA training at the masters level includes a number of graduate level hours that meet or exceed many of these disciplines.
In fact, many of our students will exceed the number of graduate hours that would fulfill a doctorate level degree in many other non-physician professions. PAs function in many capacities in their clinical, personal, and professional worlds. PAs are legislators, hospital board members, employers, educators, military leaders including commanders, VA directors and obviously, PAs hold a meaningful presence in every medical specialty. It is clear that if the PA profession is to advance in all facets of the healthcare industry and realize the ability to practice at our full potential, the doctorate level degree should be an available option for those pursuing an advanced PA degree. It is notable that many other professions have recognized this and PAFT is hopeful that our own profession’s educational leaders will see the importance of embracing doctorate level education for the PA profession. Moreover, legislators have often been quick to question whether PAs – “by our own PA education” – have the capability of fulfilling the needs of patients as they seek solutions that may ease healthcare provider shortages. Our educational depth will be one means by which we are measured and considered as viable providers to meet those shortage needs. Physicians, too, are often unaware of the extent of our didactic and clinical training, despite our presence among them for the past 45 years.
Developing and expanding an advanced degree program for PAs will only lend to professional credence and viability as capable healthcare providers. PA programs will not only be required to adapt their existing didactic and clinical programs, but it will be important to develop an “add-on” doctorate program for practicing clinicians that already hold advanced degrees. Those degrees should include both a clinical scope and a leadership tract that will enhance the doctorate PA’s ability to interact and function within health systems as well as with business leaders and administrators. It is in these areas that the clinically practicing PA lacks insight, knowledge, and skill, primarily due to limited educational resources. These are also the areas in which other professions are eclipsing PAs and forging ahead of our profession. If PAs are to become leaders in other areas of medicine, it will no longer be acceptable to limit our graduates to the solid clinical components that our present PA degree offers. The PA of the future will require an expanded educational background to become leaders in our profession and to also function at an executive level. This will allow future PA leaders to better self-define the PA profession and to clarify the value that the profession brings to accessible and affordable care while remaining patient-centered in philosophy. PAFT feels that the future of our profession rests on the willingness of our PA educators to embrace the development of a doctorate level terminal degree for all PA graduates.
Our organization hopes that most PA programs will begin to transition to a terminal doctorate degree by 2020. By 2025, the majority of PA programs should have a terminal doctorate level degree in place with many institutions also offering an “add-on” doctorate degree for those who wish to pursue additional training to advance their degree status. This would also allow all PAs who are practicing to pursue part-time degree development while also working clinically. PAs for Tomorrow feels this would be a substantial step in the recognition, development, and evolution of fully advancing the PA profession into the future as well as fully recognize the already existing rigor and hours experienced in PA education.
The PAFT board of directors have created a collection of specialty specific hints, hacks, and PEARLS.
“Joint Statement Regarding Post-Graduate Training of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants”
Released September 3, 2020.
PAs for Tomorrow (PAFT) conveys our displeasure regarding the “Joint Statement Regarding Post-Graduate Training of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants” released September 3, 2020, by multiple emergency medicine (EM) organizations. Their statement condemns physician assistant (PA) colleagues that have chosen to treat our nation’s patients by completing specialized post-graduate training in EM through residency or fellowship programs. To attempt to diminish the value of a PA’s endeavor to further his or her training is exceptionally short-sighted and entirely unnecessary.
PAFT wholeheartedly agrees with a portion of their statement, “all who provide care in the Emergency Department setting must be appropriately trained.: The focus of a PA EM residency or fellowship is exactly that—to train PAs to a heightened level of skill and clinical ability. PAs have served in emergency departments (EDs) nationwide for the past 50 years. With ever-increasing ED patient volumes, it is paramount that PAs be encouraged to seek additional training by our physician colleagues, not belittled for it.
PAFT reminds the undersigned that PAs have striven for decades to maintain and promote a healthy and productive relationship with our physician colleagues. PAs have never attempted to deny or minimize the importance of physician-led health care teams. From our research, a majority of PA EM post-graduate training programs do, in fact, have physicians on the faculty and are actively involved in the training of PAs. For instance, web pages for John Hopkins EM PA Residency, Missouri School of Medicine EM PA Fellowship, and Eastern Virginia Medical School EM PA Fellowship programs all list a physician on their faculty list. So, to infer that PA EMresidencies/fellowships are void of physician instruction or influence is simply incorrect.
PAFT encourages all PAs who wish to pursue EM specialized post-graduate training to continue to do so and dismiss the anti-PA rhetoric that is unfounded and entirely unnecessary. PAFT will continue to stand beside our PA colleagues to promote our profession and contribute to meeting the Nation’s medical needs.
Board of Directors, PAs for Tomorrow
Dr. Scott Stegall, Past-President
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PAFT believes in a committed, comprehensive campaign to educate physicians, administrators, and policymakers of the PA profession’s utility as an immediate workforce of healthcare providers. This is critical for the successful promotion and utilization of PAs in this capacity.
PAs are qualified and accessible but are hindered by constraints in both policy and legislation at multiple levels. PAFT believes that the PA profession should aggressively and progressively seek change in policy and legislation. The individual PA’s future and security are directly linked to the collective profession’s growth and evolution.