I went down to Texas last weekend to give a talk at at the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants CME conference, and what a mighty conference it was! I love going to CME conferences in other states.

As a speaker and attendee I’ve the chance to go to conferences in Oregon, Wisconsin, Montana, Idaho and Texas, in addition to some American Academy of Physician Assistant conferences and CME sessions here in my home state of Washington.

One of the things that made the Texas conference so great was the evidence at every turn of a strong association with visionary leaders, a well-organized organization and an active committee structure that keeps things humming.

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As a candidate for the upcoming April AAPA election for Secretary Treasurer, I was very struck by the strength of the Texas Academy at every turn. At a membership reception, I met scores of energized young people who are in what Texas calls the “Pre-PA” track. These are people who are not even in PA school but who are already engaging in state association activities. It’s a brilliant concept, and one I had not seen previously.

Another great example of the high-powered energy of the Texas academy was a meeting of the Multicultural Affairs Committee. As chair of the AAPA Health Disparities Work Group, I’m keenly interested in diversity and disparities issues, and this group was on fire! There were over ten people at the meeting, and most had something to say.

The committee chair was well-prepared, and did a wonderful job guiding the energetic group through their ambitious agenda. It was a sight to behold, and really showed the potential value of having committees.

Another exciting aspect was meeting lots of “old timers” from the Texas Academy, PAs who have herded the academy along for decades and who shared story after inspiring story about the early days of the Texas organization, when it was unclear if this new PA idea would even survive.

Don’t get me started on the board meeting that I witnessed. The board was big, the leadership was strong, the running of the meeting was sophisticated and almost precision-like, and the discussions were at a very high level. Parading through the bread and butter topics like PA utilization, PA owned clinics, enhancing partnership with MD colleagues, and improving the state regulatory climate to allow for increased patient access to provider services. It was a model of how a constituent meeting should be run.  

The AAPA and other states could learn much from studying the “Texas Way,” and I’ll not soon forget my many new Texas PA (and Pre-PA!) friends.

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.