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News & Press: SDPA News

Member Spotlight | Joe R. Monroe

Thursday, December 22, 2016  
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Joe R. Monroe, MPAS, PA

Joe MonroeI started what was first called Physician Assistants in Dermatology (PAD) in 1992 because I was very interested in how many derm PAs there were at that time. I found out there were six (6) and that I was the only one on the west coast except for one fellow in the Army in Washington State. We put ads in the PA journals, and got the word out through contacts and by 1994 had identified several more, at which time we were able to set up the first meeting in New Orleans (at the AAD) where we all met at the Embassy Suites hotel there. We all fit into one room where we had pizza and decided a better name might be the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA). I just wanted to connect with other derm PAs, and share experiences, tell war stories and share cases.

Here's why it’s absolutely imperative that we support SDPA: on our current track, derm PAs will outnumber dermatologists within a few years (those practicing clinical derm). We will become the face of dermatology, as incredible as it may seem. No one could have predicted this in the early ‘90’s. And if this does occur, we need to be represented to the AAD and the rest of the medical establishment, by a professional organization. This is completely  uncharted territory but we know what we’re capable of, and we know we don’t want to ride in the back of the bus. We’re practitioners of dermatology (not “extenders or helpers”) but we need to act the part. If we’re fragmented, we’ll just be swallowed up by the AAD and morph into junior members. Having professional leadership, we can fight for our rightful place on the team.

What I love most about derm is the Sherlockian aspect of it, of being the only one around who knows what’s going on because I’ve paid my dues by hard work and a dash of aptitude. Derm is so darned hard to learn but it does yield to persistent effort. One NEVER knows what one is going to see in the next room! I love that aspect of it, the suspense, the delight in seeing conditions you’ve only read about, but now, here it is, right in front of you and you know it because you’ve done the work, attended the conference, written an article, read the books, listened to the experts.

One last thing: we’re blessed with terrific leadership and volunteers. I sincerely hope others continue to step up and do their part because we all know this: dermatology (for PAs) is the best kept secret in the whole profession, and we need to cherish and protect it because, as hard as it is to believe, we still have enemies out there who resent our very existence and would put us out of business in a second if they could.

Joe Monroe is the founder of the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants, originally named Physician Assistants in Dermatology, and is a past-president of the SDPA. This article was originally published in the SDPA's December 2016 monthly eNewsletter.


SDPA Annual Summer Dermatology Conference 2018 - NOW OPEN!
June 28-July 1, 2018 – Westin Hotel – Seattle, WA
Pre-Conference June 27

16th Annual Fall Dermatology Conference 2018
November 1-4, 2018 – Loews Portofino –Orlando, FL

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