IMPACT American Academy of Physician Assistants
The time I spent in Las Vegas the American Association of Physician Assistants annual National Conference, IMPACT, proved to be one of the most beneficial experiences of my educational career. Although the trip was short, from June 1 to 3, the time was packed full of life experiences and educational enlightenments. It was also humbling to see the amount of other research produced my student peers and professional colleagues amassed in one location. In all, there were over 120 submissions for presentation and I was fortunate to be one of the less that 90 that were accepted to present. It was also interesting to find that a majority of presentation were not from students, but rather established professionals in the field as well as doctors.
My short trip began with setup on day one, which was Wednesday. At the time, it was apparent from all of the empty boards that there would be a number of poster presentations available, but at the time, I did not comprehend what this would look like when I returned two days later for the open question and answer session.
When I returned to the exhibit hall on Friday, I was amazed at the amount of information and talent gathered in one location. The empty walls of bulletin boards had been filled with hours and hours of research condensed into a few short paragraphs and charts, outlining the importance, success and in some cases, failures of everyone's research. The eclectic mix of information ran a spectrum of medicine from employee and professional satisfaction to recommended changes in treatment guidelines and standards of care. It seemed the aisles of information extended from one wall of the facility to the other, and at times it was overwhelming. However, from the short time I spent in Vegas exploring the varying areas of research, there are three lessons I learned; opportunities like this provide a better employment outlook for myself, they improve the care for my future patients, and they emphasize the importance of academic and clinical research.
My deadline is approaching. I graduate in December of this year and I will need a job. In fact, I have already begun the search having applied to a few in the last couple weeks. Fortunately for me, attending this conference has only improved that employment outlook for myself. And the reason is twofold. Not only am I more marketable for having been a presenter at the conference, I am also more adequately armed to prove my importance to patient care from the information I learned while there. When applying to a job, I obviously will not be the only candidate and what is on my CV is all I have to market myself and prove that I am the better fit at any place of employment. Being able to include such research and presentations on my CV will allow me to be a more solid candidate and provides me an advantage over another candidate that I am competing with. Also, as previously stated, I am armed with information as to why a facility should hire me over another form of mid-level, such as a nurse practitioner. As discussed in the outline of activities, one study in particular proved the benefits of a PA in the cardiothoracic surgical setting. Having this type of information available to me during interview demonstrates that I not only have a thorough understanding of my role as a PA, but also the possibilities and added benefits I can offer to the physician staff.
My future patients will also benefit from this conference. Proving to be an enormous source of information pertaining to patient care, treatment, and patient-provider relationships, I know have a vast base of patient care standards and ways to approach not only difficult disease processes, but also to view the care of a patient from a patient perspective. Studies available for review covered topics on the effectiveness of diabetes treatment in respect to patient adherence based on provider sympathy to ways to treat non-resolving burn wounds. With the information provided by these studies, I am now able to make more educated decisions that will directly affect myself as a successful clinician and my patients medical outcome.
Lastly, and what I think in some aspects is more important, a conference and poster exhibit such as this underlines the importance of academic and clinical research, successful or not; with an intentional emphasis on the not. It is a common misconception that all important research and studies are those that lead to the advances in medical treatment through proving a studies hypothesis, but this is wrong. It is also just as important to publicize the unsuccessful research as well. It is a common joke among researchers to start a medical journal filled purely with failed research. And although this is meant in light humor, there is much validity to the thought. Failed research has proven over the years to be just as important as successful research. Thankfully, IMPACT also chose as few studies to be included that had outcomes not expected by the researcher. From this, we as clinicians can take into consideration ineffective methods of treatment, ineffective diagnostic studies and also ineffective ways of communicating with patients. Calling such studies failed is a gross fallacy. If it were not for these studies, many common treatments would continue today even though they are harmful to patients, countless hours and dollars would be spent further researching fruitless aspects of treatment and methods of diagnoses and patients in the end would suffer.
In all, this trip proved extremely beneficial to me as clinician. The knowledge and experience I gained, as well as the increased marketability of me as a clinician is hard to quantify, but I know in the end, it will prove to be a great advantage. In September, my research is planned to be presented in San Francisco at the annual Breast Cancer Symposium, potentially in front of an audience attended by some of the most influential breast surgeons and oncologists in the world. Aside from the reasons discussed above, having the opportunity to attend the IMPACT conference also served as a great warm-up session to something much bigger and for that alone, I am grateful. The added benefits discussed above were just icing on the cake.