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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pi Alpha Honor Society

Pi Alpha Honor Society
“Scholarship, Service, Leadership”


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Pi Alpha [PAEA, 2015]. 


A membership motion at the October 2003 PAEA (formerly APAP) Education Forum in Phoenix, Arizona is what began the first national honor society for physician assistants. Now known as Pi Alpha, the Society was originally created to recognize PAs and promote “significant academic achievement, leadership, research, and community/professional service; and the encouragement of a high standard of character and conduct among both physician assistant students and graduates.” In only it’s second year in existence, Pi Alpha had 50 chapters established and nearly 300 students, faculty, alumni, and honorary members inducted. Today, there are 87 chapters registered across 33 states, including the District of Columbia. You can click the link to find out if your PA program has an active chapter.


“We established a Pi Alpha chapter because it is not strictly based on academic performance like Alpha Eta or Who’s Who. It recognizes the well rounded student who is committed to serving the community and the program.”
— Patrick Auth, PhD, PA-C
Director, Drexel University Hahnemann PA Program


Requirements for Chapter Membership:

  • Must be an ARC-PA accredited physician assistant (PA) program in the United States, regardless of the degree type granted.
  • Must complete and sign an application and pay the fee ($200) required for chapter membership and submit it to the national Pi Alpha office for approval.
  • Application must be signed by program director and at least 2 full-time members of the PA program faculty.

Chapter membership is limited to PA programs that are accredited by ARC-PA, but smaller and some newer programs might face financial obstacles starting chapters paying the fees required to start a chapter or to pay the required fee per student ($25). A Pi Alpha chapter is not a one-time occurrence, and PA programs have to take into consideration the longevity of the expense incurred by such membership. Inactivity of your chapter could lead to suspension or disenfranchising (see below). Thus, a program must be ready to incur the fees for students, alumni, faculty, and honorary members each year.


Requirements for student membership in Pi Alpha:
  • Must be a graduating student in the last year of the professional phase in your respective PA program
  • Must have at least a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale (at time of nomination)
  • Must attend any ARC-PA accredited PA program.
  • Must have demonstrated excellence in research, publication, community/professional service, or leadership activities.
  • The total number of student and alumni members cannot exceed 15% of the graduating class.


Membership is also granted to alumni/faculty and “honorary” members. Membership for program alumni and full-time faculty gives programs a way to honor those who have distinguished themselves in their professional careers.


Requirements for Alumni membership:
  • Nominating criteria same as student membership criteria.
  • Must have graduated from same PA program.  

Requirements for Faculty members:
  • Must have been with the PA program for at least 3 years.
  • Must have fulfilled the criteria of distinguished scholarship, as well as leadership or service to a PA program or the profession.
  • Must have full-time faculty status.
  • No limit on the number of faculty members eligible for induction each year.

Requirements for Honorary (PA or non-PA):
  • Must have rendered distinguished scholarship, as well as leadership or professional service to the PA profession, and those not eligible for election through other means are eligible through consideration with honorary status.
  • One honorary member eligible per graduating class.


Each student receives the cord and pin along with a blue carnation as part of the presentation … They are then able to wear the cord and pin the next day at graduation.”
— Rick Muma, PhD, PA-C, Director, Wichita State University PA Program.


Membership is voluntary and the program director and faculty at each program determine eligibility and membership. The list of nominees is submitted to the advisory committee for approval 2 months prior to each chapter’s graduation date. Click the link for the nomination form.


Each inductee receives an individually numbered certificate, honor cord, and pin. Costs are $25 per student, which are covered by the PA program chapter. Other fees (for faculty, alumni, and honorary members) will be absorbed by the PA program or individual. A student’s nomination may be withdrawn by faculty after submission, should the nominee fail to meet the nomination requirements between time of nomination and graduation.
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Pi Alpha's colors are blue and dark green. This is their seal. [PAEA, 2015].
Chapter organization and structure is deemed by it’s members and faculty. Each chapter has the option to have a Chapter Council comprised of faculty, program director, and other members appointed at the discretion of the Council’s chair. The Council will communicate with PAEA to submit payment of dues, create a list of nominees for membership, submit nominees names, arrange for induction of members, and other business deemed appropriate.


Suspension and Inactivity: Any chapter may be suspended or deemed inactive by the Society. Suspensions or Inactivity are considered for violations of the bylaws. Chapters are not allowed to elect or induct new members during this time. The Society may reinstate a chapter by the same mechanism. Further, a chapter will be invalidated if the institution loses its ARC-PA accreditation and the chapter will not be able to elect new members. Any chapter inactive for 5 or more years will be disenfranchised following expiration of a one-year grace period in which the chapter may consider and implement reactivation.


Benefits: “membership is not just a matter of self-esteem, an item for a resume or mention in job interviews. It implies a lifelong commitment to learning applied to benefit others. It also represents membership in a community of scholars, ‘a fellowship of learners, rather than of the learned.’


Sources:
Membership Categories and Eligibility: http://pafocus.org/current-students/pi-alpha/

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