East Lansing, MI
Class of 1971
James M. Bartow entered the medical field in the Air Force in 1964 as a corpsman. Upon discharge in 1966, he enrolled in a nursing program at his local community college with the goal of working in the emergency room. While in the nursing program, he learned of the Duke PA Program and concept. He applied and was accepted into the program in 1969 as one of the first registered nurses.
Due to Jim’s interest in surgery, he completed several rotations in various surgical units, and became the first PA to pursue a surgical specialty track. As a registered nurse and PA student, he attended regional medical society meetings and health care trade fairs to educate the local population on the PA concept. In addition, he participated with his classmates in the creation of the Student Society of Physician Assistants.
After graduation, it was a challenge to find employment in a surgical specialty because, at the time, few people knew the role of a PA. In 1972, Jim joined the new Baylor College of Medicine PA Program as a clinical coordinator, which was directed by Carl Fasser. In 1974, he took a similar position at University of Florida PA Program and went on to finish his Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences at Florida International University.
While in Houston, Jim became Chairman of the AAPA conference planning committee, under the direction of Carl Fasser. It was here that the PA staff developed the first AAPA National Newsletter. He entered a new phase of his career by learning how to run a national convention for the infant PA profession. Jim’s colleagues at Baylor and Florida supported and encouraged him to travel and learn from other health professional organizations, since there was no formal education for conference planners. He chaired the annual conference committee from 1972-1977 and was also elected Secretary of AAPA for two consecutive years, 1974-1976.
When the AAPA opened their national office in Washington DC in 1977, Jim was hired as the full time convention manager working for the new CEO, Dr. Donald W. Fisher. He was promoted to General Manager after one year. When the AAPA formed ‘state chapters,’ Jim presented a seminar to the state officers on how to develop meetings for their local memberships. The annual meeting grew from 325 attendees and 30 exhibits to 1500 attendees and 140 exhibits before Jim departed in 1984 to become an independent consultant for managing other association medical meetings. Jim’s career in medical meeting management spanned 38 years and he retired in 2012.