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Happy Physician Assistant Week!

October 6 - 12 is observed annually as Physician Assistant Week in the United States. In recognition of the 2009 celebration, Ted Ruback, M.S., PA-C, Director of the Masters in Physician Assistant Studies Degree at the School of Medicine, writes about the role of Physician Assistants in the national debate on health care reform.

Ruback ThumbnailBe an advocate. It's time to speak up and be heard!

At our graduation ceremony in August, we were honored to have Bill Leinweber, Executive Vice President and CEO of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), deliver the commencement address. In his talk, Bill stressed the important role that PAs will, and must play, in health care reform. His well-considered and timely message was one of advocacy, for both the profession and our patients.

Particularly now, when health care has been pushed to the forefront, we need to recognize our responsibility to be advocates for our profession and highlight the important role we play in meeting the health care needs of our patients and our communities. Our voices need to be heard in the ongoing debate on health care reform. On a national level there is much work being done on our behalf. The Government Affairs staffs of both the AAPA and the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) are actively engaged on Capitol Hill, advocating on behalf of the PA profession and PA education. As a member of the board and incoming president of the PAEA, I can tell you we have made advocacy our number one priority at this pivotal and unique time.

It is essential that all of our voices are heard in the health care debate. If you haven't done so already, I strongly urge you to join the AAPA as well as your state PA chapter. These organizations provide comprehensive support and advocacy for physician assistants so that they may, in turn, provide patients with increased access to quality, cost-effective health care. In a more direct role, contact your state senators and members of congress and let them know the important role you play in providing health care to their constituents. Do what you can, but do something!

Our present system of health care delivery is unsustainable. That's a given. I'm confident PAs will play a vital role in whatever model of health care will take its place. Please be a part of that solution in whatever way you can. Speak up, get involved, and contribute to the debate.

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