Finding new ways to reward and recognize employees is an emerging trend in many corporate and professional settings.

I have to admit it’s taken a little time for me to warm to the concept. I’ve worked in some places where employees were getting certificates every other day for things like showing up, bringing their own lunch, and wearing shoes that covered their toes. It can get to be a bit much.

However, I recently took part in the American Academy of Physician Assistants Distinguished Fellow recognition program. After completing the process, my opinion has changed.

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Physician assistants who meet the following criteria may apply for the AAPA’s Distinguished Fellow credential (DFAAPA):

  • Current fellow or sustaining member of AAPA, in good standing
  • Either a fellow, who graduated from his or her PA program 12 or more years ago, AND has had 9 years of membership as a fellow in the span of the 12 years prior to application
  • Or a sustaining member, who graduated from his or her PA program 20 or more years ago, AND has had 15 years of membership (fellow and/or sustaining) in the span of 20 years prior to application

Members who meet these criteria must submit an application “detailing accomplishments in three or more areas of professional achievement,” and pay a $65 administrative fee.

When I first eyeballed the criteria, I pulled out my CV, started checking stuff off and soon realized that I qualified! So I sent in the application, and a few months later I received a packet that included a couple of nice pins, as well as a nice letter to give to supervising MDs and employers.

PAs who take the time to engage in leadership don’t usually do so for the pins, but a program like this does build pride in membership and in service.  I’ve met hundreds of PAs and staff members in my time on committees and constituent organization leadership, and almost all of them have been focused on giving and not getting. This bodes well for our profession, as well as for the patients we serve.

Here’s to the AAPA for designing this creative way to recognize members who are not afraid to engage in the mechanisms needed to build a better profession.

Jim Anderson, MPAS, PA-C, ATC, 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.