Each year the American Association of Physician Assistants, or AAPA, hosts a five day long conference for certified PAs, current PA students, and people looking to learn more about what is going on in the physician assistant field. The conference is held each May and the location varies from year to year. This May 2015 I was lucky enough to attend the conference in San Francisco, California.
Each day of the conference the attendees were given a selection of lectures that they could attend. These lectures were mainly given by current PAs explaining what new technologies, drugs, and procedures are being done in their specialty, however, a variety of medical professionals were invited to lecture as well. Throughout my time at the conference I went to a handful of lectures, mostly focused on pediatrics, cancer, pain management, and vaccinations because these were some of the topics that interested me the most.
At one of my favorite lectures, I got to hear about new advances in pediatric scoliosis, more specifically the different types of surgeries that are currently being done to help reshape the curvature within a pediatric patient’s spine. Another lecture that I really enjoyed discussed alternative therapies to pain management. This lecture explained how an integrative approach to medicine can benefit a patient as well as how PAs can help their patients explore their options in handling chronic pain not limited to prescription medications.
In addition to lectures, the last day of the conference was a reception in which many companies, colleges, and clinics hosted promotional booths. I was able to visit these booths and network with physician assistants that were working as well as grab a lot of cool (and free!) stuff that they were giving out. In talking to the people at the booths I learned a lot about their careers over the years as well as hearing a lot of information about where to work and how to get to the place I want to be.
Although I am not yet a PA student, going to this career-related conference really helped solidify my decision to aim for a profession as a PA. The atmosphere of everyone at the conference as well as the willingness of every PA that I talked to to try and help me achieve what I wanted to really showed me that the people in this field are the kind of people I want to be like one day. If you are reading this and you have any doubt about joining this incredible group of people I would highly suggest trying to attend this conference. If it turns out you don’t want to further your attempts in becoming a PA you’ll, at the least, learn a lot about the cool things happening in the field!