Commentary

Letters to the Editor


 

The Future Is Now
I just wanted to share how much I appreciated Randy Danielsen’s editorial, “Back to the Future,” in the January issue [2010;20(1):cover, 30-31]. I am a 1977 graduate from the USC School of Medicine PA program (the second class!). I won’t speak for all of the “old fart” PAs who have spent more than 30 years in this profession that I truly love, but I for one agree with the focus of the article.

We must tap the tremendous experience and skill of medics returning from Iraq and Afghanistan—if for no other reason than this is the origin and “roots” of our profession. Many of us were medics and corpsmen. Additionally, we must give these heroes who have defended our country some type of veteran preference with admissions into this country’s PA programs. A bridge program to help these veterans meet the ever-increasing educational requirements also makes sense.

I can speak from my 32+ years of experience working in emergency rooms and urgent care facilities in California, Texas, and Washington. These men and women (medics and corpsmen) are some of the best with whom I have ever had the privilege to work. I was fortunate in my Medical Corps Service to never see war zone action. But I know and have worked with many who did and who can—and will—play an important role in health care in the United States.
Rick D’Alessandro, MPH, PA-C, BS, Post Falls, ID

Wow, I could not agree with this article more. There is no amount of reading and paper writing that can equal battlefield experience. We should have some type of equivalency exam and accelerated programs for these very competent individuals. Our emergency rooms are so busy, they would benefit a lot from all the trauma experience these individuals have.
Lori Melson, NP, San Luis Obispo, CA

I read this article with interest. As a practicing PA, I realize that had Dr. Eugene Stead, among others, not had the “futurist view” that men and women medics returning from Vietnam could be trained to supplement physicians in our communities, we would not be practicing today. We owe a great deal to our military colleagues who trained and learned “on the job” many skills that provided a segue into the PA profession. We must never forget from where this profession originated and must support those today who come home from war and have some training but not enough to enter our profession.

One thing the PA profession has done well is offer working PA graduates the opportunity to go back to school for postgraduate degrees. I received my master’s degree online after 20+ years working as a graduate PA! It is time to be “futuristic” in looking at ways to help accomplish this goal for returning men and women who may want to work in the PA profession.

In addition to the suggestions mentioned in the article, some other possibilities for returning medics and corpsmen could include a mentoring program, with a graduate PA to assist in PA shadowing, applications, and studies, and/or online programs to educate in prerequisites for PA studies. I believe AAPA must get involved and help support this endeavor. Possibly by partnering with physician groups and the VA, we could set up a program to help facilitate a transition into the PA profession. All of us will benefit in the “future” if we make the commitment today!
Joan Reynolds, MMS, PA-C, Fountain Hills, AZ

Beyond the “Buzz Words” of Health Care Reform
As I read Jonathan R.C. Green’s impassioned letter regarding health care reform in the January 2010 issue [Your Turn. Clinician Reviews. 2010;20(1):2], I became angered. Not at our “failed health care system,” but at the many, like Mr. Green, who choose to condemn it.

In Mr. Green’s scenario, a 44-year-old man with hypertension and diabetes is suffering, in his words, a “catastrophic collapse of his health” because he has been unable to see a physician for more than a year due to a lack of health insurance. According to Mr. Green, the responsibility for this lies at the feet of a society with “the best health care in the world” turning its back on this man. He further states that our health care system has denied this man “access” to care. Of all the arguments being cast about in the recent health care reform debates, this is one that I find especially erroneous and infuriating.

In almost every community across the country, one can easily find free or low-cost health care clinics. Whether they be federally funded or privately held, these clinics offer “access” to quality medical care at no or low cost. A brief search for such clinics in Mr. Green’s town of Evansville, Indiana, finds many options where this man could have sought care. ECHO Community Health Center in Evansville, for example, operates three free clinic locations, plus a homeless outreach. Several of the locations offer extended hours so those working full-time will still have access.

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