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As the national organization representing emergency medicine physician assistants (EMPAs) including those who choose to participate in a postgraduate emergency medicine physician assistant education program, the Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants (SEMPA) is disappointed that, once again, postgraduate EMPAs find themselves the target of a divisive and paternalistic position statement from emergency medicine physician representative organizational leaders and colleagues.
The perceived issues addressed in the Joint Statement Regarding Post-Graduate Training for Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants are equivalent to the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) and the AAEM/Residency Student Association Position Statement on Emergency Medicine Training for Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners made in February of this year. SEMPA made a public response to this statement titled Emergency Medicine Postgraduate Education for Physician Assistants Statement, which addresses this current joint statement and SEMPA’s position.
While we welcome input from our physician colleagues, we find it somewhat duplicitous that our physician colleagues express substantially unfounded concerns about the skills and ability of emergency medicine trained physician assistants, yet they continue to put up barriers to EMPAs seeking additional training.
Additionally, advocating to restrict the specific use of the terms “resident”, “residency”, “fellow”, and “fellowship”, which are also commonly used in the professions of podiatry, dentistry, and veterinary medicine, is an overstep and unnecessary. PA postgraduate education programs are clearly identified as referring to a physician assistant residency or a physician assistant fellowship program.
SEMPA desires collaborative efforts within the emergency department and between our stakeholder organizations where the contributions of all members are respected and valued.
Once again, our position is that PA postgraduate education programs are not a substitute for residency trained physicians. PAs do not aspire to replace emergency physicians, but rather to augment the practice of providing accessible, safe, high-quality emergency care to our patients, alongside our physician colleagues. We invite a constructive discourse about the concerns expressed in the joint statement.