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    RE: A Message from the founder...

    Dear TGCPAA Members and Friends:

    When I initiated the formation of the TGCPAA in the summer of 1985, there was no effective PA movement in Texas yet. TAPA was a toddler organization and run from a desk in the UTSW PAP.  Records were kept in a shoe box. TGCPAA may have been the first regional group to form separate from TAPA. Bexar County came around about the same time.  There were many forces working against the PA movement then, but the need for competent health care providers filled our sails with a strong wind.  TAPA was doing their best to fend off the anti-PA movement by the nursing establishment as they frantically shored up the NP movement.  There were signs in doctors offices that read (paraphrased) 'DANGER, A PA WORKS HERE.'  Our adversaries tried lots of tricks, but great gains were made, and a lot has changed. TGCPAA helped to firmly establish PAs in Texas.  It is important for our young colleagues to know our history so that new challenges can be met with informed decisions.  We won because we stuck together!  It is time to do it again.

    TGCPAA was instrumental in helping to secure PA prescriptive practices and later PA licensure by working behind the scenes and supporting TAPAs legislative efforts directly and indirectly.  TGCPAA members knew a lot of people who knew a lot of other people, so messages personally sent to Austin, were well received in the Texas way.  As such, the nursing establishment wasn't able to defeat us.  A new challenge is before us.  It relates to the old-adage: "WHAT'S IN A NAME?"  Answer: perceptions that can be positive and facilitative or negative obstacles.  My purpose for bringing TGCPAA to fruition was to foster a LOCAL collegial society to learn together, to socialize together and to make professional and respectful alliances with other medical professionals in our lives so that we could be recognized as valuable health care providers and not medical assistants.  We promoted the 'PA' name.  In the early days of the PA profession, there were three types (A, B, and C) where type C was an extremely narrow practitioner that was not too much different from today's nurse specialist with only an RN certificate.  The type "A" professional evolved to what we are today, and B & C became extinct.  This "A" must be protected.  I urge you to ask everybody who votes in Texas, friends, cousins, patients, supervisor docs and the plumber to let the TEXAS LEGISLATURE know that this anesthesia assistant bill is a bad idea and to let it die.  Be cool, be kind, be smart, but be persistent, but be a PA first and fight!  Then we need to pick up our own torch again.

    An ongoing problem has been related to what the word 'ASSISTANT' means to the public and uninformed legislators.  The AA movement appears to be a step backward toward the Type C concept of the 1960's, and that could affect the perception of who we are as PAs and provide significant confusion as to our skill set.  More importantly, it could be used as ammunition by opposing professional groups to portray PA as heterogeneous and poorly trained.  So what is my point?Serve up only fine wines that have been carefully made (us).  My point is that our professional image should remain "PA" because that label now transcends the full title wording, but the word "assistant" carries an inadequate connotation and seems to attract flies, so to speak.  In my opinion, PAs are professionals that associate with physicians to extend the quality and quantity of health care services to those in need.  As such, I contend that the word 'assistant' should be dropped in favor of the word " associate."   Medical assistants checking vitals in the office and other informally or OTJ-trained nursing assistants muddy our waters.  Such a name change would be costly and would be met with resistance by those that try to portray PAs as health care low-life creatures of uncertain origins.  We, as a profession, need to deal with the label head on, because the AA problem will be back again and again and will affect your wallet and livelihood.  Be vigilant, be a PA.

    Antone Opekun, MS, PA-C
    Founder, TGCPAA

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    1. Brooke Schweitzer

      May. 22, 2017

      Hi Antone, Thank you for detailing this bill for us. I think it is of utmost importance to follow along with the Texas Legislature to see how our profession is being represented. Do you think there will be any repercussions from not supporting this bill? AAs, like us, are 'mid-level providers,' although we function much more like 'Advanced Practice Providers,' working at the full extent of our licenses. Because we are characterized as such, do you think we are hurting ourselves by not supporting other 'mid-level providers' to work at the full extent of their licenses?