Westfield State University Physician Assistant Majors Advocate at 2024 PA Lobby Day

Apr 24, 2024
2024 Lobby Day, an event for Physician Assistants and students studying to be PAs. A large group of people, some in white coats, gather on the steps of the venue in Boston, MA. A wooden podium sits before all of them. Two chandeliers hang in the background behind them.

2024 PA Lobby Day in Boston.

On April 4, a group of Westfield State physician assistant students participated in the 2024 PA Lobby Day, an event organized by the Massachusetts Association of Physician Assistants. Held in Boston, University representatives included Victoria Farrara-Lawlor, Edward Krajkowski, Caitlyn Grahn, and Alexis Bergman, all of whom were accompanied by Susan McDiarmid, Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Education at Westfield State.

The PA Lobby Day serves as a platform advocating for crucial legislation within the field, notably the Optimal Team Practice bill. This bill, if enacted, would grant physician assistants (PAs) the ability to practice without mandatorily registering a supervising physician's name with the Board of PAs, thereby expanding PA access to provide vital health services.

The event provided an opportunity for attendees to engage with state representatives and senators, including Senators John Velis, Susan Moran, and Paul Feeney. Such interactions aimed to enhance healthcare practices and foster a more supportive, professional culture.

McDiarmid expressed the significance of such advocacy efforts, stating, Advocacy at this level helps students understand the legislative process, which will improve medical care and access in all communities across the Commonwealth." She also emphasized the importance of Westfield State University's PA program as being the only one offered at a public institution in New England, underscoring the event's relevance and impact on students' educational experience. “As the only PA program at a public institution in New England, it was extremely important for the program at Westfield State University. It was an amazing event and experience for our students.”

Victoria Farrara-Lawlor, Edward Krajkowski, Caitlyn Grahn, and Alexis Bergman, and Susan McDiarmid at the 2024 PA Lobby Day Conference. They pose and gather on a large staircase, and wear white coats. Susan, however, wears a pink coat.
Victoria Farrara-Lawlor, Edward Krajkowski, Caitlyn Grahn, and Alexis Bergman alongside Susan McDiarmid.

“It was such an amazing experience,” Grahn agreed. “A few of my classmates and I got to discuss two important bills surrounding the PA practice with numerous staff of representatives for the state and senators. I am thrilled to have been involved as a student, and even though it was a step out of my comfort zone, it was worth it to be a part of the movement for PA advocacy and made me excited for the future of PAs. 

Ferrara-Lawlor echoed with Grahn’s sentiments, adding, “I loved the opportunity to advocate on behalf of the physician assistant profession at a statewide level. I sat down with my state senator’s office and was able to use experiences I had during my clinicals at Westfield State to persuade and encourage their support on multiple bills concerning the PA profession and accessibility to the healthcare system. In addition, the lobby day allowed for a chance to speak to professionals and PA students from other programs. Being able to network and build community is essential to bettering our current healthcare system for ourselves and for our future patients. I look forward to seeing what else the Massachusetts Association of Physician Assistants has in store for legislation and advocacy in the future. Westfield State's PA program always encourages our support and participation in these events. I am a MAPA student representative thanks to Dr. McDiarmid's enthusiasm and appreciation for advocacy.”

Approximately 200 PAs and PA students participated in the event, which featured Dr. Dipu Patel, a veteran with 23 years of experience in the field, as the keynote speaker. Massachusetts State Representatives Marjorie Decker and Christine Barber also delivered presentations at the event.