SPEAKING TO YOUR LEGISLATOR
Certainly one reason you’ll be contacting your representative or senator is to support or oppose legislation that affects PAs. However, the PSPA also suggests you get to know your legislator first with the goal that he or she will understand the concept of the Physician Assistant before health care legislation crosses his or her desk.
Once credibility is established, PAs bring to the table insight to how issues impact their community, specifically patients within a district, how federal money is being spent there, local statistics, and an ability to provide technical education.
- Visit PSPA’s Governmental Affairs Page to coordinate any efforts and find out the current political atmosphere.
- Develop an ease of teaching the “PA Basics”, including a PA’s medical training and commitment to team practice with physicians, elaborated in Important Concepts to Convey. Demographic information may be useful in your discussion.
- Contact the PSPA office for an information packet on PAs for the legislator that can be sent to you for your visit.
- Search for your legislator here.
A personal visit is best and will require an appointment. Click here for Legislative Dos and Don’ts as well as tips for scheduling congressional visits (also provided by AAPA).
Send a thank you note after the meeting. A printed letter is best, though e-mail is acceptable, to summarize what happened and to help reinforce the relationship in a busy office. Remember to request a business card from office staff.
SPEAKING TO PHYSICIANS
The similarities between physician and PA allow for communication from one to another to come easily. But sometimes a PA needs to overcome the roadblocks of unfamiliarity, misinformation, or even a false sense of threat from an outside competitor.
For a physician unfamiliar with PAs:
- Be sure to convey that the relationship between physician assistant and physician is one of mutual trust and respect. The PA is a delegate for the physician, treating patients in the style and manner developed and directed by the supervising physician.
- Emphasize that PA training is based on the medical model.
- You may want to innumerate the clinical and financial benefits of hiring a PA for a physician who is a potential PA employer. A nicely outlined Hire a PA brochure for physicians that lists these benefits has been developed by the PSPA.
In general, keep doors open for correct information:
- Draw positive attention to PAs, attend CME dinners with your physician peers, and volunteer to present updates on clinical topics for physician groups to invite dialogue on the profession.
- Know a well-spoken physician who can speak to the effectiveness of his or her PA that would be willing to field a colleague’s questions on a referable basis.
- Ask a frequently-consulted physician if he has considered expanding his hours by utilizing a PA. His services would be more accessible and the direction of care uncompromised.
SPEAKING TO HOSPITALS
To address the concept of adding physician assistants to hospital practice, information should be directed toward your hospital administrators or your hospital’s medical board of directors. Key points are as follows:
- Use demographic information to site the number of PAs practicing in a hospital setting currently in the state.
- Define what a PA is, what services one can provide in a hospital setting, and the relationship between physicians and PAs.
- Discuss that PA education is based on the medical model and list the accredited programs in your part of the state.
- Note that hospitals choose to credential and privilege PAs which assists in the participation in quality assurance and peer review activities, including JCAHO accreditation.
An excellent overview on Physician Assistants in Hospital Practice is written by AAPA. Included are articles that may be suited for a hospital society publication for bringing all points together. This link also contains a suggested verification list for credentialing of PAs and American Medical Association Guidelines for physician/PA practice.
Are you having a difficult time getting your hospital to notice or support PAs?
- Be a part of the new intern and resident orientation to familiarize them with the PA concept.
- Work with the CME office to get PAs included in events as presenters and participants.
- Submit an article of introduction about yourself or about PA Day to the hospital newsletter.
- Nominate a PA for a hospital recognition award.
- Volunteer for committee work and work your way up to the hospital medical board.
SPEAKING TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC
The key to acceptance within your community is being the expert that you are about health care. Become involved in an educational outlet or offer yourself as a speaker on a timely health topic. Begin by simply stating who you are and what you do and invite questions after the presentation. It is easiest and appears most professional to participate in a formatted program, like the ones endorsed by the PSPA. These are guided programs, sometimes with a script available upon which you can incorporate your own style of teaching. This is also an easy way to work in parallel with other colleagues (making perhaps a media event) and avoids “reinventing the wheel.”
If appropriate, have available the Physician Assistant Up-Close brochures to hand out. These are eye-catching and colorful, explaining exactly what physician assistants do. It is preferable, though, to actually have dialogue with individuals to answer questions.
Contact your local Public Relations leader to get examples of what you can present for a high school career day.
SPEAKING TO THE MEDIA
The media is likely to have interest in you as a physician assistant because you represent a profession unlike any other. It is innovative, cost effective, and deals with health, a topic which interests everyone.
If you’ve found a media opportunity (or one has found you), here is a chance to inform a potentially large audience. The following are how-to tips and helpful hints to gain positive exposure, developed by the AAPA. Any self-written article or one containing the opinion of the PSPA should be reviewed by a public relations committee leader for content.
- Letters to the editor: This is a closely read section of journals and papers. It is a forum for expressing views not contained in the publication or for correcting errors.
- Format: The correct salutation is “To the Editor.” If responding to a specific article, refer to the publication, headline, and the date it was printed. Limit the letter to one page, if possible, and always sign. If appropriate, in the last paragraph ask the reader to do something; for example, support legislation.
- Feature articles in print (news releases or human interest stories): A public relations leader can help to connect your efforts to the appropriate reporter. An announcement about your involvement in an upcoming health fair or stroke screening should go the city or community desk. A story about a particularly interesting PA or PA Day should go to a feature editor. It is normal to send a release to more than one reporter in a news organization. Treat all news organizations fairly and equally.
TALKING TO YOUR PATIENTS
As a new employee to an office practice, increasing awareness and understanding of the concept of a physician assistant will be imperative to successful acceptance by patient and staff. The following ideas may assist you:
- Display the “PA Definition” in the waiting room and exam rooms.
- Have PA brochures for patients and staff regarding PA education and utilization.
- Make sure your own staff is well versed in what a PA can do in your setting.
- Place a news article in your local news stating “PA associated now with Dr…”
- Give each patient PA business cards for the first several months.
- Display the PA name on stationary, fax cover sheets and the building sign.
- Create a bulletin board displaying photos of all staff including names, education and special interests.
- Show videos with a PA presenting patient care topics or demonstrating a surgical procedure.
- Place a brochure describing “What is a PA?” with specifics about education and work experience about the practicing PA in the waiting room.
- For children, a physician assistant coloring book is available for purchase through the PSPA.