By Daniel M. Siegel, MD, July 02, 2012
At its most recent meeting, your Academy’s Board of Directors heard the results of a survey regarding the education of physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) employed by Academy members. The survey asked members about their support for educational programming for PAs and NPs.
The survey found that most respondents support the Academy offering additional educational sessions specifically designed for PAs and NPs; it also revealed broad support for the Academy more actively promoting the offerings that are already available to PAs and NPs by virtue of their practicing with a member dermatologist. (More information about the full survey results will appear in a future edition of Dermatology World’s Facts at Your Fingertips column.) Support for action from the Academy to educate PAs and NPs was especially strong from dermatologists who work with these allied health providers in their practices.
The survey also confirmed the continuing trend toward more and more dermatologists employing PAs and NPs. More than 40 percent of respondents now employ at least one PA or NP; current trendlines project that more than half of all dermatologists will do so by 2015. Clearly, given both these trends and the fact that the number of dermatologists completing residency remains the same even as the U.S. population continues to grow and age, PAs and NPs will of necessity play an important role in the care of many dermatologic patients going forward.
In light of these facts, and in keeping with the Academy’s mission of ensuring that dermatologic patients receive optimal care, the Board agreed that it is important for the Academy to communicate the position statement we have already established regarding the appropriate supervision and scope of practice of PAs and NPs in dermatology. This statement, “Practice of Dermatology: Protecting and Preserving Patient Safety and Quality Care,” is available at www.aad.org/Forms/Policies/ps.aspx. I encourage you to read this document and think about the ongoing and future role of PAs and NPs in dermatology and their place in our Academy. The Board also agreed that in the interest of ensuring excellence in dermatologic care, the Academy should assure that PAs and NPs in dermatology have access to the high levels of appropriate education the Academy offers.[pagebreak]
How will this be achieved? A new task force, the Physician Assistants/Nurse Practitioners Task Force, was added to the organizational structure at the May Board meeting. Its members are currently evaluating the best ways to achieve increased awareness of the offerings the Academy already makes available to PAs and NPs who work in Academy members’ offices, which include allowing them to register for our meetings and attend most sessions, with the exception of restricted symposia. The task force will also consider whether and how additional sessions for PAs and NPs should be offered at the Annual Meeting and Summer Academy Meeting. Finally, task force members will be exploring whether there are other potential opportunities for collaboration between the Academy and the PA and NP societies, both to further support application of and adherence to the Academy’s position statement and to support the highest standard of education for those who work in our practices.
This task force will report back with recommendations for action that will be considered at the August Board meeting. As always we will continue to seek feedback from our members on this important, and sometimes controversial, topic. I will be at the Academy Resource Center (booth 619) on Friday, Aug. 17 from 2 to 3 p.m. during our Summer Academy Meeting in Boston, and would enjoy talking with you there.