About Hawaii Academy of Physician Assistants
Membership is not automatic or synonymous with settling in the Islands: there are PAs who live and work in Hawaii who do not belong to HAPA, and there are other PAs who are attached to the military.  Many military PAs do support HAPA through membership which is reatly appreciated.  Military membership is $25 annually. HAPA welcomes new members and has reduced rates for students which is only $10 annually.

Most PAs in Hawaii have been here for some time, but a handful of new PAs arrive every year. Since there are no PA schools in the Islands, all of us have been trained on the Mainland. Although Hawaii is spread out among several islands it’s still a small place, so most PAs get to meet one another sooner or later.


If you'd like to join HAPA, you can easily join online here. Some of the reasons to join HAPA are listed below regarding the need for legislative representation. Additional reasons to support HAPA include maintaining our web site and valuable job board as well as continued support of our annual CME conference, the Aloha Medical Conference, which is held every fall.  Continuation of our approved AAPA Chartered Constituent status provides invaluable support from the AAPA to HAPA through grants, and support regarding legislative and reimbursement issues facing PAs. When everything is running smoothly it is sometimes easy to forget the need to support the organization, but when challenges arise it is good to know that Hawaii PAs have strong representation through HAPA.  

Diamond Head SailsPAs in Hawaii

PAs in Hawaii are located on the four principal islands: Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the “Big Island.” As of 8/15/2016 there were 298 active PAs licensed in Hawaii.  156 on Oahu, 49 on Maui, 20 on Hawaii (Big Island), 7 on Kauai and none on Molokai. 75 are listed as other and may include military PAs. There are an additional 60 holding inactive licenses. HAPA currently has approximately 65 members (10/8/2016) with representative PAs from Oahu, Hawaii, Kauai, Maui and the mainland.  Unless you are on the same island, meetings and visits require interisland commuter flights. We tried teleconferencing but this never really caught on, however now with Skype we might have better luck. Logistics and costs can be a barrier to many activities, health care not the least among them. Despite our 25-plus year presence in Hawaii--and the very real contribution PAs have made to health care delivery here--we are still untapped in many quarters. In some areas, the medical community has had little or no experience with PAs. Some parts of the health care system, however, appreciate our presence and contribution of many years. HAPA is working to educate the community about the role and positive contributions that physician assistants add to the health care delivery system in Hawaii. There is a strong need for PAs to monitor state and federal laws in this rapidly changing environment of medical delivery and sweeping health care reform. If we don't, we may find ourselves left out of important legislation. HAPA has been very active in recent years in hiring a lobbyist to help us educate the legislature. HAPA was successful in passing a 28 page bill in 2009 which modernized definitions, rules and statutes to actively reflect current PA practice. Additional bills have been passed updating definitions of medical provider to include PAs, clarifying language regarding nurses ability to carry out prescribed orders from PAs.  HAPAs legislative liaison with the help of the AAPA monitor bills during the legislative session and amendments to bills are often submitted protecting PAs inclusion as health care providers. In 2015 HAPA was successful in working with the Hawaii Medical Board and governors office in finally adding schedule II drug privileges to PA practice and in increasing the number of PAs that can be supervised by one physician to 4. Provider shortages in the islands are bringing increasing opportunities for non physican providers but PAs must remain competitive. APRNs were successful in obtaining primary care status in the 2009 session including full prescriptive authority. This means that they no longer require physician oversight which lessens the burden on a physician considering hiring a non-physician provider. This may give APRNs a competetive edge in the health care workforce. The PA model as originally conceived is in transition and in need of change in light of health care reform and current community practice. Legislative awareness and involvement is of key importance. Support of HAPA through membership will help in this goal. Many of us are busy with family and work and simply cannot volunteer time to the organization.  HAPA understands this.  Support through membership allows us to pursue our legislative and lobbying efforts for the benefit of all Hawaii PAs.  There is strength in numbers and the more PAs that support HAPA, our AAPA approved and state chartered organization, the stronger we will be.

The Hawaiian Lifestyle

Hawaii is far away from the US Mainland: there’s a five-hour time difference from the East Coast during Standard Time (fall and winter), and a six-hour time difference during Daylight Savings Time--you’ll want to keep this in mind before you make a call! The best time to phone Hawaii during business hours is between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. East Coast time.
Hawaii is “different,” socially and culturally--newcomers from the Mainland often feel welcome initially, but inevitably go through some culture shock:

The pace of life is a little slower here, and priorities tend to place home and family life above the professional worlds we work in.

The cost of living is high--$7/gallon for milk, more than $4.00/gallon for gas-- salaries have become competitive with mainland averages. Cost of living differences vary greatly and depend where you come from. Check out this link to compare.

Housing is among the most expensive in the United States and a house or apartment generally starts at $1500/month. Virtually everything needed to run a home must be imported by plane or ship so utilities are expensive too.

A visit to the Mainland is expensive; a family of four spends at least $5,000 to $6,000 on average for a two-week trip to the East Coast.

The average length of stay for a single professional in Hawaii (any type of profession) is about 18 months; you either love it and find a way to put it all together, or you give it up and go back. Be cautious when applying for a position; explore it carefully.

Given all this, Hawaii is a wonderful place to live and work--most of us have chosen to take the good with the bad and make this home. And we at the Hawaii Academy are ready to help our transitioning members in any way we can, so please contact us by phone or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. whenever the need arises!
Click here to locate or contact Hawaiian government officials.
PO Box 30355
Honolulu, HI
Direct Contact:
Dave Messer, PA-C
Past President
Christina Starks, PA-C
Fielding Mercer, PA-C
Legislative & Legal Liaison,
Jobs Listings
For general information contact:
Email: info@hapahawaii.org
Annual Aloha Conference Information:
Bob Null, PA-C  808-255-5924
Conference Committee Chair
Email: opa79@aol.com