It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly one year since I’ve taken office as President of the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA). As my term comes to a close, I can sum up the year in three words: Resilience. Unity. Progress.
RESILIENCE. Amidst our most challenging year in recent healthcare history, you never stopped showing up for your patients. I am honored to lead a Society made up of such dedicated members. You quickly learned the ropes of teledermatology and adapted your practices to follow new COVID-19 protocols.
The SDPA took notice and adjusted the way in which we navigated the year. The biggest challenge was delivering an exciting and engaging conference without the ability to meet live, in-person, face to face. SDPA quickly pivoted to create SDPA Digital 2020, which was not only our first live virtual conference, but also our highest attended conference, with over 850 attendees! Earlier this year, in response to questions surrounding Evaluation/Management (E/M) 2021 coding, the SDPA hosted two billing webinars to help prepare you to handle the changes in coding. SDPA leadership recognizes the continued interest in and desire for virtual education. In addition to the E/M 2021 webinars, we will be launching a Professional Development Series that you are sure to enjoy. And this is just the beginning of the new resources that SDPA has been working on behind the scenes. I am certain you will benefit from all the programming soon to come.
UNITY. When faced with the racial injustices in our nation, you didn’t sit by idly. Many of you got involved, supporting White Coats for Black Lives (WC4BL) by participating in organized marches or simply standing together in solidarity.
The SDPA recognizes and stands firmly against racial inequality. In order for our society to thrive, we need our leadership to be as diverse as the DermPA community in our nation. We can’t do that without your participation. I strongly encourage you to take a step forward and get involved within the SDPA or your local State Affiliate. You can learn more about all of our standing committees at https://www.dermpa.org/page/Committees.
PROGRESS. The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) House of Delegates recently passed a historical resolution. Our title will now be “Physician Associate.” While the name change process is cumbersome and will take time to take effect, it is an exciting time for our profession. While we as PAs have no doubt in our clinical acumen, the name change may help the public recognize that we are Healthcare Providers and not “assistants” to the Provider.
It’s great to have a name reflective of the work we do. But a name is just a name if we don’t have legislation to keep our profession relevant. Many states lessened PA practice restrictions in effort to increase greater access to healthcare during the pandemic. It’s important for us not to take this for granted. In March 2021, I, along with a few other SDPA leaders, virtually attended the AAPA annual Leadership and Advocacy Summit. This conference highlighted the ongoing need for each of us to be involved in our AAPA State Chapters.
In order for our profession to stay current, it’s important that we support legislation that modernizes our practice laws. I strongly encourage you to get involved in your AAPA state chapter, or at the very least, donate to AAPA’s Political Action Committee (PAC). Donations to the PAC allow the AAPA to campaign for the needs of all PAs to our legislators on Capitol Hill. You can learn more about AAPA’s PAC and advocacy efforts at: https://www.aapa.org/advocacy-central/federal-advocacy/aapa-political-action-committee-pa-pac/. It’s simply inexcusable to say, “I’m too busy to care about PA legislation.” If you want job security, professional growth, and the opportunity to be heard, you need to make sure you are involved in your state’s legislative efforts concerning PA practice laws.
I am optimistic about the future of our profession. The SDPA membership continues to grow exponentially, now exceeding 4,300 members! Nine years ago, when I first started in leadership, we had 1,700 members. I’m proud to also report that we continue to be the largest specialty PA organization in the nation.
As I prepare to pass the gavel to my successor, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve. It has been an honor and a privilege to lead the organization through arguably the most difficult year in our nation’s recent history. I didn’t do it alone, but depended on a team of talented and resilient leaders and staff. Thanks to this team effort, the SDPA thrived. Keep up the important work you continue to do daily for your patients and communities. As internationally recognized author, speaker, and business consultant Simon Sinek said, “When we help ourselves, we find moments of happiness. When we help others, we find lasting fulfillment.” I look forward to seeing you in Chicago for our Summer Conference. Until then, be well.
With you and for you,
Archana M. Sangha, MMS, PA-C
President, SDPA 2020-2021