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By Erin Rysavy, MPH, PA-C



In this time of change, Gratitude & Peace…


One thing I love about Minnesota is the constantly changing weather.  I have no doubt that if we had sunny, 70-degree weather every day, I would be wishing for more variety.  As I write this, there are still orange and red fall leaves hanging from the trees, and there is a beautiful snowy white blanket covering the ground and evergreen branches.  I feel truly blessed to experience this peculiar sight. As I take the time to notice these things, despite my chaotic schedule, I feel a certain peace.  As we change our clocks to accommodate the change in daylight, my initial reaction is to feel gloomy and miserable.  But recognizing that change is inevitable, I am empowered by the ideas of cuddling up with warm blankets, drinking hot apple cider, and finishing house projects that I put off all summer because I wanted to enjoy the sunshine.


As PAs across the US consider the idea of Optimal Team Practice, there may be mixed feelings about what that means (what is OTP you ask?  Educate yourself!).  It may seem like a big change to consider using words like collaboration rather than supervision.  Although there may be a difference in semantics, I am grateful that the way we practice as a team with our physicians will not change.  In all likelihood, we will not notice a change in the way we practice from day to day.  


Also, as providers, we need to remember our patients experience change on a regular basis.  We can be a beacon of gratitude and hope for improvement.  Consider that there are many changes that occur all the time that we have no control over, but we do have the power to change how we act and feel. Change does not have to be a passive experience.  The holiday season is an opportune time to embrace gratitude, and invest in those who are important to us; to dedicate time to nourish our relationships.  It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season.  We can use change as an opportunity to learn rather than to blame, to gain insight rather than condemning.  Bringing a focus to connection and thanksgiving creates new opportunities for action.  As the beautiful and crazy changes occur all around us, make time for these opportunities to unfold.  Wishing you all peace, connection and gratitude!

Erin Rysavy, MPH, PA-C
President, MAPA





Past President's Perspectives 




By Erin Rysavy, MPH, PA-C


I was recently given the honor to speak at Augsburg University’s White Coat Ceremony. It gave me a chance to reflect on what the white coat means to me, and what a key role humanism plays in medicine!  Although I am a graduate of the Augsburg PA program, they did not have this ceremony as part of the process when I was there.  So I did a little Google research.  Interestingly I found that the history of the white coat stems from the 19th century.  At that time, there was great respect for certainty, in contrast to the quackery of medicine. During that time doctors mostly wore black garbs, representing formality, solemnity, and death. The white lab coat came to emphasize the more scientific approach to modern medicine, thanks especially to Joseph Lister, whose reproducible results helped researchers better understand how to prevent bacterial contamination. This color change also represented the “pureness”, and the dream that Lister had that bacteria could be successfully overcome; that pneumonia, appendicitis, or an infected blister no longer had to result in death.  Today, many people, including Dr. Gold suggest that the white coat is viewed as a symbol of compassion and responsibility to not only take care of patients, but to care for patients.

I received my first white coat when I started at my first job as a PA in orthopedics.  Although it was 16 years ago now, I can still remember the pride, nervousness, excitement, and sense of responsibility that came with it.  Thankfully, I was paired with a physician who realized the importance of humanism.  He really got to know people for who they were, and listened to their stories.  He was straightforward, but had a great sense of humor.  He encouraged me to make evidence-based decisions, be confident, listen, and be kind.  I learned that I may not have all the right answers to patient’s questions, nor know what is causing their symptoms.  And that’s where the art of medicine comes in; where warmth, empathy, and understanding outweigh hardcore facts. I sometimes tell people that their symptoms didn’t read the textbook.  That their radiating leg pain is kind of a puzzle, and could be coming from a few different sources, but we can try injections to help us figure this out.  And I’ve learned that patients come back if their pain doesn’t go away!  I also often tell people I don’t know, or I can’t explain why they have so much pain.  And it’s OK not to know!  The doctor I worked with also believed that it was perfectly acceptable to do surgery on your own family members. While I worked with him, I assisted in surgery on my dad, my husband, and my grandma.  As you can imagine, I gained a lot of respect for the importance of dignity, integrity, and always doing the best job I can do.

After 12 years, my first doctor partner retired, and I have had the opportunity to work with a new doctor, who also is extremely kind.  Working with him, I have learned the importance of communication. Ask a question, pause, and listen.  He speaks to patients in a way that takes their likely unspoken thoughts and concerns into consideration.  For example, going through an x-ray that is relatively normal, he acknowledges that just because there is no arthritis, it doesn’t mean they don’t have pain.  So, question, pause, listen, empathize, and communicate.

Through the years, I have learned the importance of knowledge and research, but probably more importantly the importance of compassion, integrity, and respecting others.  Thankfully I have been quite healthy to this point, but I’ve experienced enough to have some empathy of what it’s like to be a patient or patient’s family.  I try to put myself in their place and explain every step of what’s happening.  For example, if I’m giving an injection, I communicate the process.  I tell the patient, “it will just take me a few minutes to get the medication loaded up; now you’ll be feeling my hand”, and then I say “poke” just before I insert the needle.  I never use the words big or long needle in the room if I don’t have to.  I think knowing the steps helps make the experience better even if the shot hurts. I also try to communicate updates or changes.  I know when my sister just had a C-section; they told me they would come to get me around 10am.  They finally came to get me around 11am.  What I wasn’t told was that there was a delay getting started, and that everything was going well.  But for that hour, while my sister was being operated on by a brand new surgeon, I started to assume the worst!!  Explaining and updating expectations makes a world of difference.  Communication is key!  

As Sir William Osler said, “The practice of Medicine is an art, not a trade; a calling, not a business.”

In our medical practices, we all have moments of feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and afraid.  But there are far more moments of excitement, connection, gratitude, and love. 

Erin Rysavy, MPH, PA-C
President, MAPA







July/August – If Not Now, When?


By Erin Rysavy, MPH, PA-C


As I embark on my Presidential year for MAPA, I am excited to see what we create.  Not only is it a personal development opportunity, but an opportunity to be a part of the ever-changing landscape of PA practice.

If I’m speaking from my comfort zone, I am a proficient and passionate practitioner, and have been working in the same orthopedic practice for 16 years.  In expanding my horizons, I have taken on the role of MAPA President.  When I was approached to run for this position, I initially wanted to avoid the responsibility, but realized that someone needs to continue to maintain and enhance the landscape of PA practice in Minnesota. Why not me?  Although I didn’t necessarily feel like I was ready, I realized that has nothing to do with whether or not I’m actually ready. So here I am, ready to jump in with both feet!

As the MAPA Board of Directors, we are currently working on improving our website, raising awareness of membership benefits, and increasing networking/ socializing among Minnesota PAs.  We also continue to provide quality and affordable CME Conferences.

As you know, our legislative committee has been hard at work maintaining and advancing PAs practice privileges.  In Minnesota, we currently enjoy all 6 key elements of Modern PA practice as outlined by the AAPA!  (link:  There has been much discussion on the national level about Optimal Team Practice. This policy was recently passed by AAPA’s House of Delegates to continue to advance modern PA practice. (link:  I am looking forward to working with the legislative committee as we discuss how we choose to proceed with implementing changes in laws within Minnesota!  

As always, I welcome any questions or concerns from MAPA members as well as all Minnesota practicing PAs.  Now, more than ever, your input is an invaluable contribution to our profession. My intent is to represent your needs and wants, but I can’t do it without you!  Furthermore, I imagine there are many of you who also feel a calling to leadership, or a way to stretch and grow as a professional. I encourage you to stand tall, play on the skinny branches, and ask yourself, what does that look like for me? What’s next for me?  And if not now, when?  Contact me if you want to have a conversation!

I look forward to working for, and working with you all!!  Blessings to you all as summer quickly speeds on.

Erin Rysavy, MPH, PA-C
President, MAPA






What an honor and a privilege it has been to serve as president of the Minnesota Academy of PAs.  This past year has been filled with changes, many of which will benefit the PAs in Minnesota for years to come.  We have partnered with Affinity Strategies to provide management and support services to the Academy.  Our legislative team has once again been successful in improving PAs ability to practice to the full extent of their training.  On May 17, 2017 Governor Dayton signed into law SF 1844, a joint effort between MAPA and the APRN coalition to allow PAs and APRNs across Minnesota to complete and sign death certificates along with signature recognition on multiple other medical forms (Joint signature bill).

The Minnesota delegation to AAPA’s House of Delegates (HOD) was diligent in reviewing the resolutions presented and represented the views of Minnesota PAs during deliberation on the House floor and on the final vote of said resolutions.  As many of you are aware Optimal Team Practice (formerly known as Full Practice Authority) was passed.  Prior to the convening of the HOD, MAPA invited the PAs of Minnesota to share their opinions on this issue through a variety of ways, including chats on the website and forums during the spring conference.  MAPA will once again be soliciting the opinion of Minnesota PAs regarding this issue, as the Board of Directors and the Legislative Team carefully consider how to further improve PA practice in Minnesota.

Thank you for allowing me the privilege to steer the direction of MAPA, to represent the PAs of Minnesota in various capacities and to be the voice of PAs across Minnesota.  As the medical landscape continues to change MAPA will continue to be at the forefront, working diligently to ensure continued improvements in PA practice and allowing Minnesota PAs to do what they do best ….. care for their patients.  Once again thank you for this privilege and I know that MAPA and Minnesota PAs will continue to benefit as Erin Rysavy, PA-C, steps into the role of president. 

May your summer be filled with laughter, joy, memories and family!




Becky Ness, PA-C
President, MAPA

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