U.S. Army Physician Assistants at Fort Bliss, Texas, honored National Physician Assistant Day, or PA Day, by convening in a medical, professional, and development training event at the Fort Bliss Centennial Banquet and Conference Center.
The event was strategically planned to bring together all unit physician assistants for networking, training to get continuing medical education credits and to allow senior PAs to mentor junior PAs in their field of medicine.
“A reason (to have this) is to get all the PAs on post together so that they can kind of network and socialize and learn lessons from each other because each one learns different things as they are doing their jobs and battalion and brigade levels. A day of talking to each other is very helpful professionally,” said Maj. Zebulon Wilkin, 1st Armored Division senior division physician assistant.
Throughout Fort Bliss, there are an average of 60 to 70 physician assistants throughout the year, and Wilkin mentions that at least half of that population carry out different deployed missions, each, around the world.
“The importance of a PA is the same as the importance of the physician in the unit,” said Lt. Col. Ezella Washington, 1AD, division surgeon. “The PAs really take care of our Soldiers and they also take care of the docs as well. They are the ones front-lined and pushed far forward in the fight, and they are the ones who work closely with the medics and training and teaching them how to develop their skills. The PA is always the one who sees the patient on the front line and informs the doc of what needs to be done afterwards.”
Throughout the day, PA participants heard special speakers on topics such as military assignments and PA careers, command communications, emergency medicine cases, PA history, and life as a civilian PA after the Army.
“National PA Day I think is a great time to allow for things like this to happen, so we’re not having to do too many trainings that may take us away from units,” said 1st Lt. Kyle Louye, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1AD. “I think it’s great to have a meeting of the minds where we can see what everyone is doing in their other units and how to improve our individual units and care for Soldiers. There is always something new to learn. We should all be life-long learners. If we get to the point where we think we know everything, then I think that is a danger to ourselves and everyone else.”
The event also hosted an Interservice Physician Assistant Program graduation, where two newly appointed second lieutenants became PAs.
Washington confirmed that there are plans to continue to do PA Day events such as this one, annually.