The following article is part of The Clinical Advisor’s conference coverage from the 2017 American Academy of Physician Assistants’ meeting in Las Vegas. Our staff will be reporting live on original research, case studies, and professional outreach and advocacy news from leading PAs in many specialty areas. Check back for the latest news from AAPA 2017. 

LAS VEGAS — Members of the House of Delegates have unanimously approved Optimal Team Practice at the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) 2017 conference.

This new policy has been approved during the 50th anniversary of the PA profession to enhance the ability of PAs to meet the needs of patients and ensure the future of the profession in the changing healthcare marketplace.

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Optimal Team Practice supports the removal of state laws and regulations that require PAs to have or report a supervisory or collaborating relationship with a physician to practice. This policy also supports the establishment of autonomous state boards with a majority of PA members to license, regulate, and discipline PAs. PAs should be eligible to be reimbursed directly by public and private insurance under this new policy.

“Passage of this new policy serves as a significant milestone for PAs,” stated Josanne Pagel, MPAS, PA-C, President and Chair of the AAPA. “While Optimal Team Practice may take some time to fully implement in all 50 states and US territories, it will most certainly enhance the profession’s ability to help patients, especially in rural and underserved areas, and reduce administrative burdens on physicians.”

An amendment offered on the floor of the House of Delegates also reaffirms that the degree of collaboration between PAs and physicians should be determined at the practice level. The Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) offered its support with the addition of this amendment.

Unlike full practice authority, which nurse practitioners have been pursuing and have achieved in 22 states and Washington DC, Optimal Team Practice reemphasizes the PA profession’s commitment to team-based practice. PAs would continue to collaborate with physicians in accordance with each PA’s education, training, and experience.

“This new policy gives PAs the foundation on which to pursue legislative changes that will enhance the profession’s ability to meet our nation’s healthcare needs,” Ms Pagel stated.

AAPA 2017 continues through Friday, May 19th. Visit for more information.


  1. PAs Vote to Advance Profession to Meet Modern Healthcare Needs [press release]. American Academy of Physician Assistants. Published May 18, 2017. Accessed May 18, 2017.