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The Meaning Of PA Week, From A Current Physician Assistant

It’s hard to believe that such a revolutionary concept, the Physician Assistant, will be turning fifty years old this coming year. Even harder to believe, the AAPA reports there are currently 108,500 certified Physician Assistants in our great nation. The NCCPA (National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants) notes in their 2014 Statistical Profile of Certified Physician Assistants that by the end of the year I graduated, 2009, “there were approximately 74,777 certified PAs.” The steady climb is proof that the role of the Physician Assistant is not only becoming much accepted, but thriving. I’ve had the honor and privilege of learning and working with many incredible people and professionals who just happen to be PAs.

I look at two of my peers who have assumed this role— I couldn’t be prouder of them:

My friend Katie Montgomery is a Cardiology PA. She worked harder through PA school than anyone I’ve ever known. She’s held numerous professional roles, and handled each with grace and kindness, professionalism and poise. Patients often ask if I know her, and then they proceed to gush for 3-5 minutes on just how wonderful she is. She loves crafts and spending time with her amazing husband. She is a proud dog-mom of three sweet rescue pups.

My friend Kristin Eckenrode is an Internal Medicine PA who loves working extended autonomous shifts in a rural hospital. She manages to make time to volunteer at our local fire department while being an amazing mother to baby Carter. She’s an experienced firefighter, EMR, Registered Nurse, and Physician Assistant. As the wife of a State Trooper, her strength and optimism never cease to amaze me. Her humility and sweet personality make her incredible accomplishments even more impressive.  

I could go on listing the stories of colleagues I absolutely love and admire for pages. PA week is meaningful for me as a Physician Assistant, because it’s a time to reflect on the amazing and dynamic people who make up our profession. The general public views us as “real people”, which is something that defines us as clinicians. We take the time to talk, look for cost-effective alternatives, and go the extra mile. We genuinely care. I really feel strongly that there’s a reason for the incredible statistics for success and growth among our profession. Not only is there a need for quality, cost-effective healthcare, the model and people have shown to exceed expectations in primary and specialty care.

Forbes listed the Physician Assistant profession number one among the “Top Ten Most Promising Jobs of 2015.” U.S. News and World Report ranked the Physician Assistant profession number five among “The 100 Best Jobs,” and number four among the “Best Health Care Jobs” in 2016. The future for PA’s looks incredible. This is all to the credit of our predecessors, our mentors, our professors, and every single person who was willing to give this novel concept a chance. I’d love to know what Eugene A. Stead, Jr., MD would think of the concept he created back in the 1960’s. For me, PA week is a week to focus on just how blessed we are as professionals and as a profession. It’s an opportunity to focus on how grateful we should be for our work every single day. There’s something so special about using your time and talent to impact people the way we do.


Justine Roberts, MPAS, PA-C, MBA is a committed, humble clinician who works to impact the lives of her patients beyond just their incisions and sutures. A tremendous writer and communicator, she spends much of her time talking with her patients about changes they can make to better their lives.

Aptly named, Enclothed Cognition is the official Medelita blog for medical professionals interested in topics relevant to a discerning and inquisitive audience. Medelita was founded by a licensed clinician who felt strongly about the connection between focus, poise and appearance.

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