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Membership in West Virginia State Medical Association being extended to physician assistants

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — “A natural alliance” is how the executive director of the West Virginia State Medical Association describes the move to create a new category for association membership specifically for physician assistants working in the Mountain State.

“Physicians and physician assistants practice together in many different settings,” said Brian Foy, executive director of the West Virginia State Medical Association.

“We’re natural allies and we believe this partnership will strengthen both professions.”

In Foy’s view, the new collaboration will clear the way for physicians and physician assistants to better work together to promote public health issues and improve healthcare delivery to West Virginians.

Physician assistants are medical providers who are licensed to diagnose and treat illness and disease and to prescribe medication for patients. They work in physician offices, hospitals and clinics in collaboration with licensed physicians.

“We’re excited to have them aboard. We’ve always worked closely and had a good relationship with the PAs and we just thought this was the next logical step,” said Foy.

“Not only just the sharing of information, but the fact that we’re stronger together, working together, we’ll work closely together on advocacy issues, but also just the opportunity to work together on so many different fronts.”

The Association, whose members up until now have been MDs and DOs, also provides continuing medical education and promotes the medical profession.

Initially, the physician assistants will be associate members.

“Our members are enthusiastic about this partnership and we are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, president of the WVSMA, in a statement.

National Physician Assistants Week wrapped up Wednesday.

Next year, the West Virginia State Medical Association, the largest doctor advocacy organization in the Mountain State, will mark its 150th year of physician advocacy, while 2017 will also be the 50th anniversary year of the physician assistant profession.

The first class of physician assistants graduated from Duke University on Oct. 6, 1967.

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