Belonging to a professional association means education, newsletters, meetings, camaraderie and opportunities for friendship and personal growth, according to members of the Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants.
There are so many reasons to belong to a professional organization: camaraderie, continuing education opportunities, representation to the medical profession, regulators, employers and insurers, and leads in finding jobs.
Beverly Kimball, a physician assistant with NOW Medical Centers based in Golden Valley, has been a member of the Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants (MAPA), www.mnacadpa.org, since 1985. She's been president three times, chaired a variety of committees, been active on others, and even served as a delegate to the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
Kimball appreciates all the usual reasons for belonging to a professional organization. But there's more in it for her. "These people are some of my closest friends. It's an extended family," she says.
Take The Long View
MAPA currently has more than 500 professional members, 113 student members and a handful of others. Kimball acknowledges that some PAs haven't joined the organization because their employer won't pay the $125 annual dues. She considers that stance short-sighted.
MAPA members receive discounts on continuing medical education courses and may subscribe to the organization's professional newsletter for $15 a year versus $98 a year for non-members, she explains. They may attend MAPA's multiple-day meetings each spring and fall and receive a 25-percent discount on Epocrates, a medical and drug information program for computers, PDAs and mobile phones.
"You will learn so much about yourself if you join a committee and take on a leadership role. You will grow as a professional, but more than that, you will grow as a person," Kimball adds. "If you're not active, you might not be happy with the outcomes, but if you step up and help out, maybe the outcomes would have been different."
Constant Learning Experience
Walt Rothwell, a PA at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, first volunteered to help on MAPA's board in 1990 and currently co-chairs the legislative and reimbursement committee. Membership has taught him not only about professional practice requirements but also about how PAs around the state function, whether they are in a general or specialty medical practice.
"There is a tremendous amount of diversity in the specific patient care we provide, and by networking, it's kind of a constant learning experience," Rothwell says. "One of the greatest benefits of MAPA membership is the nurturing of leadership skills for all who get involved. Through board activity, interaction with our national leaders and MAPA's professional staff, we see a steady stream of PAs growing into higher levels of leadership than they ever expected."