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- A Tireless AdvocateA Tireless Advocate
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.”
- Video: History of the PA ProfessionVideo: History of the PA Profession
Find out how the PA profession got its start, and how early PAs paved the way for the profession’s growth and leadership in today’s healthcare system. This video was a collaborative effort between the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the Physician Assistant History Society. It was shown at a General Session at IMPACT 2013, AAPA’s 41st Annual Physician Assistant Conference in Washington, D.C.
- Longtime Leader Continues to Influence ProfessionLongtime Leader Continues to Influence Profession
John Trimbath, PA-C, had good reason to spend some time away from advocacy between 2008 and 2009. He had been paralyzed from the chest down in a fall from a mechanical bull, and he needed to focus on his recovery and rehabilitation. But a year later, he was back home and back in his familiar role of advocating to make Ohio more friendly to PA practice.
“I thought there were still some things I had to offer,” said Trimbath by phone from his home in Cleveland. Ohio had long been a thorn in the side of state and national PA advocates for being slow to allow PA prescribing authority and other elements that have prevented PAs from maximizing their practice abilities. “There were issues here in Ohio that were my responsibility before I got injured. [The Ohio Association of Physician Assistants (OAPA)] chose to involve me based on my understanding of the law and what we had gone through to get the law passed,” he said, referring to a 2006 law that gave PAs in Ohio physician-delegated prescriptive authority.
For his advocacy efforts on the state and national levels, John Trimbath, PA-C, is the 2013 recipient of AAPA’s President’s Award.
Trimbath, a U.S. Air Force veteran and PA since 1979, held high-level offices with AAPA as well, serving terms on the AAPA Board of Directors as both secretary and director-at-large. Within OAPA, he had been president, legislative coordinator and lobbyist. Following his recovery, he became involved with the AAPA House of Delegates once again and was asked to serve on a task force to explore changes in the structure of AAPA governance.
His involvement brought his deep knowledge of PA laws and regulations back into the mix and gave him something to focus on. “This has helped me in my rehabilitation to see that there are things that I can do, even being quadriplegic,” he said. “My wife, my family and my friends will tell you that staying involved helped me get through this major change in my life.”
As Trimbath is unable to practice clinically, involvement in the policy side of the profession is a major focus of his days. As soon as he’s in his wheelchair, he begins reading the news out of AAPA and OAPA. He’s often tapped to do research on OAPA legislative efforts and takes phone calls from PAs in the state who have questions about policy and legislation. He has given lectures at The Cleveland Clinic and stays current on the latest clinical and medical news. He also looks for professional opportunities.
“I don’t get paid for a lot of this, but I try to keep myself up-to-date as much as I can,” Trimbath says.
Trimbath was recently voted president-elect of OAPA and will assume that office in July. The OAPA Board of Directors met in January and laid out what Trimbath calls a “pretty ambitious” two-year legislative agenda. “There’s a lot of work to be done in Ohio for us to achieve the Six Key Elements of a Modern PA Practice Act,” Trimbath says. “We’re working toward those.” Trimbath also serves on the AAPA Nominating Work Group and hopes to continue in that capacity.
“I’m making sure the profession moves forward,” he says.
Outside his professional involvement, Trimbath tries to stay as active as possible. “My health has been very good,” he says. “I’ve come very far, much further than anybody originally thought I would. I have a lot of strength back. I have things to do on a daily basis. I was able to go to a few fundraisers and get a [wheelchair-accessible] van. I’ve been doing well. There’s a mall about a mile down the street where I’m able to go and do some shopping. I’ve had no major setbacks.”
Trimbath is grateful to the Veterans Health Administration benefits he’s received for allowing him access to the care and equipment that has helped his recovery.
His colleagues at OAPA are thankful to have Trimbath’s knowledge to rely on, said OAPA Executive Director Beth Adamson. “John is basically my go-to person because he has a long history as a PA and as a PA in Ohio,” she says. “He has been there from the beginning, watched the profession grow and witnessed the roadblocks. He remembers everything, and that is just wonderful.”
Adamson credits Trimbath as a key player in the recent legislation that gave Ohio PAs the ability to prescribe Schedule II substances. “He has been a steady and knowledgeable presence for decades,” she said.
“PAs in Ohio are well aware of who he is, and he’s very highly respected,” Adamson says. “His year in recovery following his accident was the only time we didn’t have much communication. Then right away, he was back as he always was.”
Christopher Doscher is a freelance writer, editor and executive speechwriter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also: Purposeful Medicine
- Video: PAs Took Washington! IMPACT 2013 Highlight ReelVideo: PAs Took Washington! IMPACT 2013 Highlight Reel
This high-energy video was shown at the final General Session at IMPACT 2013, AAPA’s 41st Annual Physician Assistant Conference in Washington, D.C. Relive the excitement of the many learning, networking and social activities at the conference. AAPA would like to thank the PAs, PA students, exhibitors and others who made IMPACT 2013 a success.
And don’t forget to mark your calendar for the 2014 conference in Boston, May 24-28! For more on physician assistants, visit www.aapa.org.
- Beyond the Call of DutyBeyond the Call of Duty
Read about Earl Morse and the other 2013 PAragon Award winners in May’s PA Professional magazine.
The sun was coming up as Earl Morse scrambled to organize the 24 deluxe motor coaches pulling into the airport to meet two 747s with 540 World War II veterans on board. That’s when it hit him.
“I cannot believe we’ve been this blessed—that so many people have come together to make this happen,” he remembers thinking.
Morse’s organization, Honor Flight, has transported more than 98,500 World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the memorial honoring WWII veterans’ service. For his work on behalf of veterans, he is the recipient of the 2013 Federal Service PA of the Year Award.
This PAragon Award honors a PA who has demonstrated exemplary service in the federal service sector of the PA profession. Federal service sector is defined as a PA working for any of the uniformed services, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Public Health Service or other related federal agencies.
A retired Air Force captain, Morse started the program in December 2004, after realizing that the aging military patients at his U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Springfield, Ohio, would never get to see the National World War II Memorial—completed in May 2004—without some help.
Morse knew there had to be a way to make their dream possible. He was a private pilot and a member of one of the largest aero clubs in the United States at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. He started recruiting pilots in the club to help him fly the veterans to D.C. free of charge. The pilots would then escort the veterans through the city to see the memorial.
An amazing journey began. The first flights in May 2005 took 12 veterans on six planes to Manassas, Va., where vans transported the veterans into D.C. By the end of the first year, Honor Flight had transported 137 World War II veterans to the memorial. From there, the program raised funds and started buying seats on commercial airplanes. Today, Honor Flight has 121 hubs in 41 states. Terminally ill veterans are given priority on the program’s massive waiting lists.
There’s an urgency to their mission: Honor Flight’s website states that 800 World War II veterans die every day. Aside from WWII veterans, the program flies Korean and Vietnam veterans to see their respective memorials.
Morse eventually quit his job to run Honor Flight, living off his 401(k). He traveled around the country teaching people how to get the program up and running. He says the responses from the veterans and the pilots are overwhelming when they get to the memorials.
Morse says the veterans go to D.C. for two reasons. “They want to see how their accomplishment is going to be remembered. But an equally important reason is to see how their buddy is going to be remembered—their friend who never made it out of the plane or across the field or onto the shore. And when they go to Washington, there’s a lot of tears as they remember these friends. But then there’s so many people who will come up to them and shake their hand and say, ‘Thank you for what you’ve done.’”
Many World War II veterans never got that kind of response. They didn’t all receive a ticker-tape parade through New York City. Many were occupation forces, so they stayed behind in Japan and Europe, and didn’t come home until six months after the war ended. When these men go on an Honor Flight trip, they’re finally getting the recognition they deserve.
Morse has achieved astounding success with Honor Flight—he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2008—but he’s not finished helping former U.S. military. He’s currently working on a program to help veterans of special operations who can’t get treatment for their injuries because they aren’t allowed to talk about their top secret missions. For over 50 years, some of our most elite troops haven’t been able to access medical benefits due to this restriction.
Morse is pushing for the Department of Defense to declassify as much of the troops’ military and medical records as possible so that they can receive veterans’ healthcare benefits.
“Helping veterans brings me tremendous fulfillment,” says Morse. “My dad served, as well as my uncles on both sides of the family. Some of my aunts have served. My children have served. So when I’m taking care of veterans, I’m taking care of family.”
His advice for those who want to help veterans? “It’s real simple. Go up to somebody who’s in uniform, look them in the eye, shake their hand, and tell them, ‘Thank you.’ And if they’re a Vietnam vet, say, ‘Welcome home.’ That’s a sincere expression of gratitude for someone who was willing to risk their life for you and your family.”
Read about Earl Morse and the other 2013 PAragon Award winners in May’s PA Professional magazine.