Documenting The PA Model Around the World
Adam Halbur is a filmmaker and poet who went around the world in 2017 documenting the PA model in nine countries: the US, UK, Netherlands, Israel, South Africa, Liberia, India, Australia, and Laos.
He then made a film about it!
This is the first post of a nine-part series in which we will take a deep dive into the film and spotlight pioneers of the PA profession trailblazing new paths around the globe.
In each post, we will cover one of the nine countries in detail, along with never before seen footage and compelling interviews provided specially for you by the filmmaker.
Why Make a Film about PAs?
Many outside the PA profession questioned Adam why he would invest time and money circumnavigating the globe, filming physician assistants.
To which, he graciously replied:
Physician Assistant #180
Though very well-paid now, Dick Halbur, the filmmaker's father, began his career as an early physician assistant (PA #180 in Wisconsin to be exact).
As a PA pioneer, Dick wholeheartedly devoted himself to the PA profession despite being overworked, underpaid, and his new profession tottering on the verge of collapse for over a decade.
But his father, a farmer's son, understood the meaning of hard work and enjoyed chewing the fat (conversing) with the rural folk he treated. He enjoyed addressing their needs and gaining their confidence.
Also, like many PAs who followed in his footsteps, Dick didn't always know that he wanted to be a physician assistant.
Adam, the filmmaker, came to know some of his dad's patients in person and by word of mouth and so developed his own devotion to the story.
This is best illustrated in a poem Adam published over a decade ago that demonstrates medicine's influence in his writing:
Like the Earth, the heart is
a Badlands. There's really no love, as they say
there is, just a quiet between
the systolic push of red
along channels of the chest:
An evening thunderstorm, let's say, lightning,
a rush of muddy waters
trenching the canyon walls
and a clearing where a coyote
of river stones in the sky.
"I truly believe that the PAs I met along the way have been given the opportunity of great lives, and I thank them for allowing this lone coyote an attempt, in the very least, of placing their story amidst the stars." - Adam Halbur, documentary filmmaker (seen here in the white shirt)
A Preview of What's to Come in This Blog Series
The United Kingdom
Watkins is one of six original PAs to graduate from one of three pilot programs in the UK, namely St. George’s, which she then joined as staff in 2008:
The Netherlands is one country in which the PA has been implemented not merely on a trial basis but as a long-term government solution to rising healthcare demands and costs. It is also a country where everyone is covered by the national healthcare plan regardless of income.
During filming in 2017, there were no PA programs or PAs practicing in northern and northeastern parts of India. The government is slow to hire PAs, and without avenues of career advancement or a standard of living comparable with western counterparts, eventually, most PAs migrate to other industries or abroad.
And many more countries will be covered as part of this series!
For the Love of the PA Profession
To say that I am grateful for Adam and his commitment to creating global awareness and understanding of the PA profession is a gross understatement.
As Good As You Can: The PA Model Around the World is a beautiful, meaningful, and timely piece of work. The footage from these interviews is a behind the scenes journey into the minds of heroes and trailblazers of our profession.
Join me as we begin our journey around the world with PAs leading the charge for better, more cost-effective, patient-oriented care. We will be starting here in the good old U.S of A in the first of our extraordinary nine-part series, titled American Cheese: The Patenting of the U.S. PA. If you are at all interested in global health or the history of the PA profession, then you won't want to miss this series.
I'll see you soon for post #2, and in the meantime, make sure to sign up using the form below to receive email notifications. Also, please consider supporting filmmaker Adam Halbur's incredible work by making a $25 contribution to the development and marketing of his film through this link.