Are AAPA elections relevant to members?

During the last few years, voting numbers have continued to fall with recent annual elections attracting less than 10% of the eligible AAPA voters.

Are AAPA elections relevant to members?
Are AAPA elections relevant to members?
The American Academy of Physician Assistants' campaign for the 2014 Board of Directors is just about underway, and for better or worse, I am right in the middle of it as a candidate for the AAPA Board position of Secretary-Treasurer.

It's always hard to know how much or how little to do with professional association campaigns such as this. On one hand, I don't want to act like some kind of big shot with fancy web action, over-the-top Facebook pages or anything that will make my effort appear to be unnatural or phony.

On the other hand, I want to be sure to provide easy access to interested AAPA members to my opinions and rationale running.

During the last few years, voting numbers have continued to fall from an already low figure, with recent annual elections attracting less than 10% of the eligible AAPA voters. Is this because of too much information provided for them, or too little?

Maybe it's not even about too much or too little. Maybe it's just about the kind of information they get sent to them by the academy, and the innately busy schedules that most PAs keep.

Perhaps PAs on the front lines don't really want to see smiling picture of PAs in suits filling up their email in-boxes, with toothy requests for votes and support. It may be that the old election model currently used by AAPA is outdated, and not relevant to members.

I've tried to keep my campaign communications simple, basic and focused on how I think the profession and the AAPA can do a better job keeping the members in the driver's seat, and focusing on enhancing our practice while keeping our eyes “on the prize” of improving care for all patients and addressing health care inequality.

The election runs for a month in April -- way too long if you ask me. Communications to members from the association are due to come out starting in mid-January.

I've wondered over the past few years about better ways to do this. Some feel that the low voter turnout means that members don't really care about voting, and that we should move away from such a process. But I don't really buy that.

Members pay big money, and should run the show as far as organizational direction. If we are going to have a Board of Directors, members deserve the right to control that process.

Maybe it could be done better through the AAPA House of Delegates, a 200-plus body of members who are all elected by their states, caucuses, specialty organizations and other constituent organizations.

Or maybe it would be better to have the elections take place at the annual national conference, with candidates squaring off in front of members already in attendance for the CME. Imagine the excitement of a candidate forum attended by a thousand members, with board candidates answering tough questions from stakeholders real-time?

Tell me what you think, or if you even care about any of this. I hope you do, because it's your dough and your organization. Email me at j.eddy.anderson@gmail.com, and let me know what you think.

I'd also love to have you look at my Facebook campaign page, my platform and curriculum vitae. Tell me it it's too much, not enough or just right. Here's to putting YOU in control of this process, and making the election relevant to your practice and concerns.

Jim Anderson, MPAS, PA-C, ATC, DFAAPA, is chair of the American Academy of Physician Assistants Health Disparities Work Group, founder of Physician Assistants for Health Equity and faculty of the Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.

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