This has been an interesting year for the PA profession. We have once again persevered even though there continues to be misconceptions about our role in healthcare. Scut work aside, we have been able to witness changes in healthcare in 2015. ICD-10 was officially rolled out and now my “problems in relationships with the in-laws” have an official code! If my husband asks what’s going on when I cringe during a family dinner, I will just say that I have been diagnosed with Z63.1 and end the conversation. Most of us made a smooth transition to the new codes and possibly even had some fun when we diagnosed our patients after they were “struck by an orca, first encounter” W56.22. Other than being slightly annoying when having to provide laterality, type, intractability, and associated symptoms when I diagnose a patient with a simple tension headache, ICD-10 hasn’t been too horrible.
Another continued adjustment has been secondary to the changes in insurance coverage. The Affordable Care Act has continued to increase our patients’ access to healthcare. The numbers of uninsured Americans dropped drastically in 2015. PAs are ready and willing to care for our newly established patients. Yes, there are still problems with navigating government websites, and understanding the law has been a gong show. But we know that this is a step in the right direction for many people, although the increased cost to some has been difficult to swallow. One thing we know is that job security for the PA is not an issue. I believe in 2016 we will see salary increases and more positions opening for PAs.
Even though the job opportunities are abundant, PAs definitely had a few reasons to gripe. After looking at social media for guidance, I saw a few common themes. We are really, REALLY not satisfied with the current model put in place for recertification. The exam is stressful enough even if you are in a primary care setting, but for those unlucky folks who decided to follow their dream to a specialty, the test is a nightmare. Luckily, a few brave souls are actively working to remedy the NCCPA’s requirements which will hopefully include an “open book” portion and many different exam choices that would be more fitting for each specialty.
Physician’s assistants, er, I mean, physician assistants, also hate apostrophes. Watch out, newbies! If you dare ask a question on one of our professional Facebook pages and place the apostrophe in the wrong place, you will likely question your entire personhood. The amount of backlash actually is comparable to someone who comes out as an anti-vaxer, but I know it stems from the desire for us to be recognized as the professionals we are.
In closing, we are in the right profession, in the right place, at the right time. 2016 will bring us continued growth with opportunities to expand our roles in the wonderful world of medicine. I have no doubt that a patient will come in with a “burn due to water skis on fire, initial encounter- V91.07XA.” And when they do, the PA will be ready!