Ugly battle in the California Academy of Physician Assistants needs mediation

Problems within the California Academy of Physician Assistants and the state's PAs has escalated to such a degree that it impacts all PAs.

Where is the AAPA on the fight between PAs and the CAPA?
Where is the AAPA on the fight between PAs and the CAPA?

 For the last several months, a battle between two factions in the California Academy of Physician Assistants (CAPA) has escalated at an alarming rate, resulting in the recent expulsion and suspension of some high-profile California physician assistants (PAs) from the association.

The academy feels these PAs have issued over-the-top criticism of the organization, while the PAs in question feel the criticism is warranted and relevant input regarding the running of the CAPA.

I've watched from a distance and tried to figure out the story; I know and respect PAs on both sides, and still don't have a clear picture of what it's really all about. As always, there clearly is a back story that none of us know.

But from what I can tell, it looks like some members with ties to past leadership were concerned with actions of current leadership, and voiced their strong concerns publicly, resulting in a strong reaction from the current leadership leading to their expulsion, resignation, and/or suspension.

As I know some of the PAs on both sides, I tried from afar to offer mediation, encouraging both parties to look for ways to deescalate this ugly conflict. PAs from the current leadership, including a very good friend, basically told me to butt out, while PAs from the insurgent group were more appreciative of my efforts.

But in the end, all that has happened is that this has gotten uglier and uglier, resulting in the suspension of Larry Rosen, PA-C, who has been a leader in the California and national academies for many years. Rosen is someone who has been honored nationally for his work within PA community, and has been a charismatic leader in proceedings of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) House of Delegates for many years.

There has also been expulsion and resignation of other PAs, threats of legal action against the insurgents (unless they pipe down), based on the recent battles. The current leadership has used academy policy as a basis for strong actions against those who have publicly been critical of the academy. 

It's still hard to figure it all out, but it's sad, unsightly, and hard to watch. It's also terrible public relations for PAs, but there seems to be no end in sight, and now legal action has been threatened on both sides.

The CAPA website has posted some information about the charges and actions against Larry Rosen and Andrew Bernal, PA-C. Bernal has posted videos of himself being followed by security at CAPA events.

Additionally, equally sad and sordid information about some of the members who have been investigated for what CAPA clearly feel is unwarranted criticism can be found on their Facebook page.

But take my advice; viewing is only for those with very strong stomachs. I can't help but wonder where the AAPA Board of Directors and other AAPA leadership is in trying to put this fire out, and help one of our most storied state chapters  move past this embarrassing incident and return to harmony and peace.

Certainly, the AAPA doesn't own the state academies  (and we never know what's going on behind-the-scenes) but I sure do hope that the AAPA is using every possible means to get this thing under control,  because what's going on in California now is harming PAs, and those we serve, everywhere.

Jim Anderson, MPAS, PA-C, ATC, DFAAPA, is a physician assistant in Seattle, WA.

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