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On to Greener Pastures: A Pilot PA Program in Ireland


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel across the globe and work as a physician assistant in another country?

That is exactly what one of my former PA school colleagues did. In fact, she took it one step further and was involved in piloting a brand new program in Ireland. She also wrote an article that was featured on the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA) website for her experiences, I’ve linked the article at the end of this post. It is a great tribute to the works and efforts of all those involved in the program.

I first met Jaclyn Rohan (Jackie), along with our sixty classmates, during one of our many UF “welcome to PA school” gatherings at The University of Florida. She’s was bright, bubbly personality, with fire red hair and an infectious laugh- hard to miss, and notably none of those qualities wavered during our intense two-year program. Jackie was smart, dependable, and generally solid as a rock throughout PA school. We didn’t study together much, but may have had a few good laughs on a limo bus together to celebrate several birthdays and nuptials of our colleagues. Good times. I digress.

Ireland has long been on my bucket list so it was to my happy surprise to randomly see her post on Facebook that she had moved to Ireland to work as a PA.

In July 2015, Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, piloted a 27-month program where experienced PAs from other countries were brought in to fill the needs in various surgical specialties. Jaclyn moved to Dublin in November 2016.

It was there that she spent time working to help the first PA program develop a curriculum and also was able to work within the Irish healthcare system.

The JAAPA article, notes that she had met some expected “pockets of resistance” to the profession but the healthcare community seemed to be open to the concept of a physician assistant within their system.

Sadly, the pilot concluded in October of 2017, her employment permit was not extended to help mentor the first Irish graduating class and she had to move back to the United States. She mentioned that she would have stayed if it was an option.

I’m proud of Jaclyn, she participated in a program that will likely change the health care system in Ireland. It takes courage and a pretty robust spine to leave your comfort zone, and I’d say she accomplished that at the very least. I’d love to hear more about her adventures in Ireland, both from the travel perspective and the similarities and differences in the healthcare, but that will have to be for another post 😉

The international scene is definitely changing for physician assistants. Other countries outside the US are faced with similar physician shortages and looking for alternative methods to fill the need.

If you are interested, Physician Assistant Associations has a list and the links of all the US and some of the international associations. Currently, US Virgin Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK have associations you can contact for more information. If you know of another international association, comment below and I will add it! Check out her article too!

Read Jaclyn’s JAAPA article here:

JAAPA- Piloting PAs in Ireland

 

-C

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Courtney
Physician Assistant, Owner and Blogger at EmpoweredPAs.com. Currently practicing in a Pediatric Emergency Department, overseeing and developing evidence-based clinical practice guidelines with teams of amazing people, supporting and mentoring Pre-PA and PA Students, with a hope to advance our profession and give PAs the tools and resouces they need to advance their careers.