One of the biggest challenges for any PA moving to another state is the need for a new state license. This is especially true for active-duty PA military spouses due to their frequent moves. This uprooting not only personally affects couples and families, but also the patients, clinical teams, hospital systems, and communities due to turnover and loss of clinicians in the workforce as these PAs relocate.
According to the Department of Defense, in 2019, approximately 39% of active-duty military spouses in the workforce have occupations that require them to hold state-specific professional licensures. These approximate 130,000 individuals hold licenses and work as PAs, speech pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and include many more professions. However, the strain of frequent relocations leaves many of these professional spouses without work for a period of time as they work through the hurdles of applying for and obtaining new state licensures and seeking out their next place of employment.
In early 2023, President Biden signed a bill into law called the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act as part of the broader Veterans Auto and Education Improvement Act of 2022. Part of this new bill, referred to as the PA Licensure Compact or the PA Compact, is intended to streamline the process of transferring professional licenses to new states to support military spouses that are relocating as part of military orders. Even though it’s a new bill, the PA Licensure Compact is starting to gain a foothold with the goal of streamlining PA licensing.
For those PAs that need to have licenses to practice in multiple states, including military spouses, the PA Licensure Compact will be a game-changer. The potential of license portability will not only benefit military spouse PAs, but also PAs who work in telemedicine serving patients in multiple states.
States joining the PA Compact agree to allow licensed PAs to practice in another state by recognizing a valid and unencumbered professional license that was issued in another state as valid in their state. In participating states, the PA Compact will take precedence over the current federal law that requires these professionals to obtain individual state licenses for each of the states they practice in (which we know is both costly and time-consuming).
Currently, only two states have adopted this Compact with several other states still in the adoption process. So, more needs to be done to assist our PA military spouses to continue to be able to work clinically while relocating in the name of Uncle Sam. But to those military spouse PAs - we see you and we appreciate you. We are rooting for this PA Compact to be enacted by all states in the future to make your professional lives easier so you can continue serving and helping our patients!
See below for more information:
PA Veteran Spotlight
This month, in honor of Veterans Day, we want to shine a spotlight on the PAs who serve and those who have served, the PAs who take care of those who served, and military spouses that are also PAs.
What did you enjoy most about being in the Navy?
“While in the Navy I had the opportunity to travel to areas I would not have otherwise visited such as a deployment to Norway and a humanitarian mission to South America, Central America, and The Caribbean. I got to meet and work with people of different backgrounds in and outside of the medical field. The leadership and communication skills I developed as an officer have been of great use as I recently transitioned back into the civilian healthcare sector.”
Tell a memorable experience/patient/memory you had of your time in service.
“During my time as the medical officer for a USMC infantry battalion, we deployed to northern Norway above the Arctic Circle. This was one of the most beautiful regions I have visited and most nights I was able to watch the aurora borealis (northern lights). I had the opportunity to develop professionally during my time in rural Norway where there was a lack of robust medical resources that I often relied on while in the US.”
What do you like most about working at the VA?
“The VA is a great place to provide care to our nation's Veterans as the system really tries to provide a holistic approach to medical care with preventative care, wellness programs and social programs. I am grateful to be able to spend most of my efforts focusing on patient care and can easily get my patients the services and medications they need without having to deal with a lot of the ‘red tape’ of private insurance that those in private practice need to consider when developing a treatment plan.”
What makes providing medical care to veterans so meaningful?
“It is truly an honor to be able to provide medical care to our nation's Veterans. They are some of the most humble and grateful people you will ever meet. I love the sense of camaraderie the Veterans have to one another, always asking which branch of the military each other served in and sharing memories with one another. Even with Veterans having the option to get care close to home in their community, many still prefer to travel far distances to receive their care at a VA as it is more than just healthcare to them.”
Tell us about a particularly memorable case/patient/memory from your time at the VA.
“I have so many great memories from my years spent at the VA. One particular memory that my colleagues still tease me about is the time we had a traveling Veteran that was going to refuse inpatient hospitalization because he had his dog with him and obviously could not leave the dog in his truck for several days. I was able to convince him to stay in the hospital by taking his dog home for the weekend. My kids loved it so it was a win-win situation.”
What is the most challenging aspect of being a military spouse/partner?
“Being a military family is not a one-size-fits-all situation. My husband is in the Active Duty Army, so we move every 2-3 years. Some spouses/partners and families support service members of other military branches while others serve more locally in the National Guard/Reserves. Not all military service requires frequent relocation (or any), but there are always challenges.
For my family, the relocation aspect is the most challenging part. Since I met my husband in 2017, we have lived in Iowa, Texas, Virginia, and we are currently living in Maine. We just find ourselves feeling settled in a location, finding a good set of friends, getting settled into a church family, and getting into a groove, when we find out that another move is coming. We have to find new doctors, new trusted care providers/child care, and get resettled all over again.
Relocating for my husband’s career can also be really exciting and adventurous, and can seem like extended vacations in places we would otherwise never choose to live. However, this lifestyle can also be isolating and relocating only becomes more difficult as our daughter grows up without being close to grandparents, cousins and other family members, and a constant network of community and school friends to grow up with.”
What would be the most helpful thing for others to know about how to support military families?
“Military service is not a standard 9-5 job. Some service members work days, nights, weekends, and 24-hour shifts, with requirements to train for weeks at a time, and when called upon, they must also deploy. Military families often struggle to find a work-life balance because of the ever-changing and demanding schedule.
One helpful idea is to reach out to military families and ask if they need help during the time of the deployment or training: Do they need help with childcare? Do they need a few hours per week to have time for themselves to have a break? Do they need help with a meal one night per week?
Stepping in and asking how you can help alleviate some of the pressure from the spouse/partner who is at home can really make a difference and help that person not feel like they are on an island alone and have to do it all by themselves. For the service members, being supportive of them and what they are doing for our country is key. They sacrifice milestones with their children and miss out on precious time with their spouse/partner that they will never get back. Supporting them in both big and small ways as they support our country is paramount.”
Happy Veterans Day to all of our active duty and veteran military members, and their spouses and families. We salute you, thank you, and celebrate you. Thank you for all that you do!