As with the members of the field itself, you can find generalist physician assistant associations as well as specialized associations. Nationally, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, or AAPA, is the primary association for physician assistants. The AAPA is a tremendous source of information for physician assistants and offers opportunities for continuing medical education. The AAPA is also an advocacy organization, working to represent physician assistants at both the state and federal levels. The Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA) provides up-to-date clinical information, cases, and review. PA Professional magazine, published by the AAPA and available in print and online, is a monthly source of news, health care information, and job opportunities. The AAPA also supports the AAPA Student Academy, dedicated to serving physician assistant students.
The National Association of Physician Assistants is a more recent grass-roots organization of physician assistants devoted to promoting the profession. At this time, the organization is gathering members and support to move forward with their goals.
The Physician Assistant Education Association, or PAEA, is a national organization that represents accredited physician assistant schools. PAEA produces a web-based newsletter, PAEA Networker, for physician assistant educators. The organization’s Journal of Physician Assistant Education is peer reviewed and published quarterly. It contains abstracts, legal-issue reviews, evidence-based medicine discussions and review, and select topics such as higher education and ethics.
Physician assistants who specialize in surgery are served by the American Association of Surgical Physician Assistants (AASPA). The AASPA offers continuing medical education as well as a chance for members to network and learn from each other. The AASPA promotes surgical physician assistants and provides a job board.
The Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants (SEMPA) offers education, resources, and a job bank for PAs interested in emergency medicine. Similar resources exist for other interests: the Association of Family Practice Physician Assistants for primary-care physician assistants; the Association of Physician Assistants in Cardiovascular Surgery; the Veteran Affairs Physician Assistant Association ; the Naval Association of Physician Assistants; theAmerican Society of Orthopaedic Physician Assistants; the Association of Neurosurgical Physician Assistants; the Urological Association of Physician Assistants; the American Society of Endocrine Physician Assistants; and the Association of Physician Assistants in Psychiatry; theSociety of Physician Assistants in Otorhinolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery. Specialty societies may offer their own journals and newsletters.
Additionally, each state, and sometimes regions within states, has its own professional association, for example, the Downeast Association of Physician Assistants or the Hawaii Academy of Physician Assistants. ADVANCE for Physician Assistants, is an additional peer-reviewed magazine resource offering information and forums.
This long list of organizations is a testament to the power of PAs and their interest in supporting each other. Physician assistants may find value in joining many of these groups. AAPA may be the best organization for general advocacy and education. A state association allows for networking, camaraderie among colleagues, and local options for continuing education. Specialized associations allow physician assistants with focused interests to network with like-minded colleagues, keep abreast of particular changes in their specialty, and track job opportunities most interesting to them.