Dear Mr. O'Reilly,
On behalf of the Association of Family Practice Physician Assistant/Associate (AFPPA) organization, we were thoroughly dismayed and assuredly disappointed by your comments about the PA profession during "The O'Reilly Factor" broadcast on March 4, 2014. We know that by the time you read this letter you will have been contacted by a multitude of our colleagues and other graduates who probably listened to and respected your views in the past. Not only did you disparage our profession, your innuendo about community college insults every graduate of these institutions of higher learning.
Comparing PA's and our training to "Lenny, who just came out of the community college" grossly misrepresents our education and the quality medicine that PAs practice in every medical setting and specialty in America. That includes caring for our military service members, both home and abroad, and even serving on the white house medical staff. The misleading information you expressed does a great disservice to the millions of viewers who trust the information and opinions you provide.
Maybe you were unaware of what a physician assistant is/does or maybe your staffers/researchers confused our profession with "medical assistants". What you need to know is that the majority of today's PAs are educated through intense, graduate-level medical programs wherein we are trained to diagnose, treat and prescribe. In contrast to your comment, 94 percent of PAs hold bachelors, masters or higher degrees. We are often trained right alongside physicians in medical schools, academic medical centers and residencies. These programs are modeled on the medical school curriculum with a combination of classroom instruction and a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical rotations. That means we share diagnostic and therapeutic reasoning with that of physicians.
PAs are nationally certified and licensed to practice medicine and prescribe medication in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories with the exception of Puerto Rico. PAs are authorized by the State Medical Boards to practice medicine, meaning we can perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret lab tests, assist in surgery, perform procedures, provide patient education and counseling, and make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes among many other medical services.
There are more than 95,000 PAs in the workforce today, increasing access to high-quality healthcare. More than 7,000 PAs graduate from 181 accredited programs each year. We would encourage you to learn more about the PA profession before your next healthcare segment. The proper thing to do in this instance would be to do a story on our profession with details of our educational process. Your viewers deserve to know they can count on us for the care they need, when they need it.
The Board of DirectorsAssociation of Family Practice Physician Assistants