COVID-19: A call to action

April 17, 2020

Everyone has a slightly different take on the issues surrounding COVID-19 according to their practice, history, and a dozen other factors. These issues need to be addressed as a country.

The article by Dr. Andrew Schuman discussing the COVID-19 pandemic points out many issues and concerns that have been lingering in our medical world for a while. Everyone has a slightly different take on these issues according to their practice, history, and a dozen other factors, but I think that most can agree on the issues addressed in the article. From my perspective as a physician assistant, there are a few other issues that I think we need to address as a country as well.

The rise of social media and the Internet in general has given a voice to all people, for good or bad. This leads to one of the issues Schuman addressed: Much of the advice we are getting is not from people who work the front lines. Many, if not most, have little actual knowledge of what they are discussing. Sifting through the deluge of seemingly credible information to find the few good nuggets is tiresome. To make things worse, little is known about the current pandemic and recommendations change hour to hour. Staying current is a full-time job.

The COVID-19 pandemic reinforces our need to bring our manufacturing and production back home. Our dependence on others has led to huge shortages in medicines and equipment that threaten our ability to treat patients and to protect ourselves. Couple this with overregulation and our problems are multiplied exponentially. These are not new problems but problems that are now brought to the forefront.

Speaking of regulation, it’s time to modernize medicine in America. Outdated and archaic laws and regulations limit the usefulness of our advance practice practitioners. I believe we can have a team concept and still allow a broader scope of practice. We need a national standard to replace our state-to-state laws to provide consistency and allow our providers to utilize their talents to the fullest. Limiting what medications can be prescribed and what tests can be ordered hamstrings providers to a point that patients suffer, especially in rural and underserved areas. Necessity needs to lead to invention so we can fix our broken system.

Mr. Smith, Member-at-Large and Board Member for SPAP, received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from Georgia Southwestern College in Americus, Georgia, next attending the University of Georgia for master’s work in education and later Emory University Physician Assistant school from which he obtained his Master of Medical Science. 

In addition to membership in SPAP, Mr. Smith is also a member of the Georgia Association of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Physician Assistants, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is credentialed at Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital where he chairs the Pediatric Preparedness Committee. He also is a Co-Trainer for the Pediatric Readiness Quality Collaborative, a national program through the Emergency Medical Services for Children.

In December of 2014, Mr. Smith earned a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Pediatrics from the National Commission on Certifications of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). This certification is in addition to his certification from the NCCPA and demonstrates knowledge and skills specific to pediatrics. He is married to Renee Smith, also a Physician Assistant, and they have one child, Emma.