Jeff Callard hit the ground running when he became a physician assistant in 1988—and he hasn’t stopped. He’s been a constant leader, provider and teacher. Looking at the long list of achievements on his resume, you wonder how he has time to do it all.
After spending a few years working in emergency departments in Addison and Flint, Mich., Callard realized his true passion was emergency medicine.
“I like the action—those peaks and troughs of adrenaline you get in the ER. You get to be a jack of all trades and you get to be inventive—manufacturing splints and things like that. But working with a team is really the exciting part.”
Once he settled on a specialty, Callard began taking on leadership roles, first on the Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants’ CME and Legislative Committees and then as its liaison to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). He was a founding member of the Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants (SEMPA) in 1991, and subsequently served as its director-at-large (twice), treasurer, vice president (twice), president (twice), and chief delegate to the AAPA House of Delegates.
Beyond that, Callard has been a key player in building a strong relationship between PAs and ACEP. He helped physicians understand the role of PAs in emergency medicine and helped influence ACEP policy on emergency medicine both for physicians and PAs.
“We have an outstanding relationship between the three of us—AAPA, SEMPA and ACEP. We’ve had opportunities to work together on bills in Congress. ACEP will say, ‘SEMPA, can you talk to AAPA about supporting us?’ We can talk to each other and try to accomplish some of our goals politically, legislatively and so forth,” says Callard.
He’s also a teacher and estimates that he has precepted more than 100 students. He was the educational coordinator for PA students at Hurley Medical Center and McLaren Regional Medical Center, and is currently the coordinator at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.
In addition, he was a test item writer for the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants and has been adjunct faculty at Wayne State University’s Eugene College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences since 2010. He also has done peer review for Academic Emergency Medicine since 2008.
His philosophy on precepting is simple: “Those are our future employees. They’re our future colleagues, and my department and I feel it’s really important that we’re a part of their education.”
Callard is very humble when asked about his accomplishments and points to the people he’s worked with as integral to his success. “[The Outstanding PA of the Year Award] doesn’t represent what I did. It represents what everybody did for me. I went to a lot of meetings and my fellow PAs had to cover my shifts while I was gone for weeks at a time. It’s the people I worked with at SEMPA, AAPA and ACEP who taught me to be a better leader and a better PA.”
When prodded, he says he’s most proud of working with SEMPA to strengthen the relationship with ACEP. “When we started, ACEP asked us if we had somebody who could come and represent the PAs at some meetings. And over the years, we were able to get the right person to say, ‘Hey, you should come to this or that.’ Now it’s gotten to the point where they expect a PA representative from AAPA and SEMPA to be at every meeting.”
With all this under his belt, you wouldn’t expect Callard to slow down anytime soon—he’s not. As a member of the board of directors of the Emergency Physicians Medical Group in Ann Arbor, he’s finding ways to help people navigate the palliative care system. His group is also focusing on building up senior emergency departments in the area to provide better care to elderly patients.
Besides continuing to educate PA students and being a leader at SEMPA, he is doing outreach into communities to promote preventive care—ironically, so people don’t have to visit him in the ER in the first place.
He hopes the profession continues to grow and that PAs become strong advocates for their patients and preceptors for students.
“I want us to continue to get stronger. People come to us now to answer questions. It used to be that we’d have to sneak in the back door to be involved. I want us to be in the forefront of patient advocacy and healthcare reform.”