The connection between CMDA and FCPA goes back a long way…read the history of these interactions recounted below by Nancy Staible, one of the founders of the FCPA organization.
It was April of 1976 after graduating from PA school at the Medical College of Georgia and working as a PA with Kaiser Permanente in Denver, CO that I traveled to the CMDA annual meeting of the House of Delegates (HOD). In my role as Secretary of the AAPA, my purpose in attending the CMDA meeting was to glean information on the organizational structure of CMDA’s HOD as the AAPA was in the investigational phase of forming its own for their professional organization. Personally, I also wanted to learn more about the Christian Medical and Dental Association and had been invited to speak about physician assistants to the body gathered at their meeting.
Fast forward then to 1980, when a group of “old-timers”, members of the AAPA HOD of the AAPA were sitting around the pool one afternoon during a break from the business of the annual HOD meeting discussing plans for that evening. The focus of the conversation soon became “we are tired of the same old party and drinking nights that just make us tired the next day.” We related how life had changed for us since student days. With growing families and responsibilities, we really desired to have great conversation over dinner with like-minded colleagues and call it a night.
The next year at the AAPA annual meeting two of those same PAs (myself and David Terp) expressed again our desire for some sort of group of liked-minded PAs. We also discussed the subject of our mutual faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The conversation quickly focused on how to combine both passions into one venture. We both knew that the AAPA HOD had created a category within the academy for the organization of special interest groups and caucuses. We decided to request space at the next annual AAPA meeting, publicize our purpose and see if there was any interest in moving forward as a special interest group.
In 1982, during the AAPA conference held in Washington, DC, a group of about 20 PAs came to that first meeting. The group enthusiastically endorsed the idea of submitting an application for special interest group status in the AAPA. The name determined was the Fellowship of Christian PAs and the mission and vision statements were written and approved by the group before we left the national meeting. During the subsequent year, a newsletter was published and circulated to a growing number of interested PAs and the plans for formal meetings at AAPA annual meetings began. Initially, we began with Prayer and Praise Fellowship meetings from 7:00-8:30 every morning of the conference. Speakers from outside the group were sought from ministries and churches in the city where the convention was held. We also set aside one meeting during the week to encourage PAs in the FCPA who were in full-time missions to tell their stories. During the last morning of the annual meeting, a business meeting was held with a report from the FCPA Board of Directors and elections and goal setting for the next year. These early morning prayer and praise meetings continue to be held at each annual AAPA conference.
Several years later we embarked on some new endeavors. We requested hotel convention space for evening meetings that had a featured speaker in an attempt to increase interest for PA s in attendance. They grew the FCPA mailing list (up to 600+) and subsequent meeting attendance (100+) but required a significant amount of pre-meeting planning and additional volunteer hands to host and undertake the event during the conference.
Another endeavor was hosting booth space in the exhibit hall during the convention. This allowed us to meet and sign up many students and fellows at that venue. Much the same format at state meetings began to take place and grow the size of the FCPA. We attempted to regionalize the organization, had several exhibit displays produced and sent to regional representatives to be used at student PA program events in the regions and also Constituent Chapter meetings. All of this work was done by volunteer FCPA members with full-time jobs and many with families. We had no staff support from the AAPA or paid for by FCPA.
During these outreach endeavors, the FCPA Board voted to seek caucus status with the AAPA in 1995. The application was submitted and in 1996 FCPA received status as an official caucus of the AAPA. This was a bold and strategic move giving us official representation in the HOD and the ability to introduce policy resolutions. We believed we needed to be actively involved not only as HOD delegates from our Constituent Chapters but also as an official caucus regarding the policies presented in the HOD.
From the early interactions in the late 1970’s, we were strengthening our relationship with CMDA. Members of the FCPA BOD met with staff of CMDA. David Stevens, current President of CMDA was our speaker at FCPA annual meetings several times. Members of FCPA were encouraged to become members of CMDA also. Jack Pike and Nancy Staible served on many medical mission trips with GHO and encouraged many more PA s to participate. Jack and Nancy became the FCPA liaisons to the GHO Advisory Council.
Missions became more and more a focus for FCPA when we were invited to become a part of the largest annual gathering of Christian healthcare providers in missions called the Global Health Missions Conference. This conference is sponsored by a large church in Louisville, Kentucky where former FCPA board member and section Chair, Steve Gaskins, is a member. Both Nancy and Jack served on the organizing committee for this conference for over 10 years. Both also have been speakers for the conference and invited many PAs in full-time missions as speakers. FCPA commitment and involvement in this conference continues even today.
During the first 3 decades of this ministry, all the accomplishments of the FCPA were the direct result of hard work and effort by the volunteer PAs who gave of their time and energy and finances. As the ministry grew and more support was needed to accomplish the “behind the scenes” activities of the organization, and in light of the many strong relationships and connections formed between the two organizations, the FCPA became a specialty section of CMDA in January 2013. This initially was done to assist with revenue and resource sharing including staff but continues to be a mutually beneficial relationship amongst the many Christian healthcare providers under the CMDA umbrella. In 2015, Jack Pike was brought on as a CMDA Board Member and continues to represent the interests of the FCPA to the CMDA community at large. These changes have been made for the furtherance of both the FCPA and CMDA and will continue to see dividends even further into the future.