2018 PAEA Education Forum: Board Candidate

Dipu Patel, MPAS, PA-C

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Director at Large Platform Statement

It has been a privilege to serve on the Board of Directors for PAEA over the past two years. I have learned what true service to the profession means through the work we, as a Board, have accomplished. As the profession grows, so too, must our approach to education, practice, and policy.

As a practicing provider for 18 years and now an educator, I am humbled to see the evolution of the profession through the relentless efforts and work of PA leaders with whom I have had the honor of serving with. I have learned that while PA practice is our mission as a profession, the work of policy and education is the vision. Drawing upon my own varied practice experience has allowed me to lend my knowledge for the greater good and upward movement of the profession. Our strength as a profession lies in our collective ability to embrace diversity of practice, policy, and human resources. As our profession grows, having strong leadership and cultivation of innovation will further the foundation of the profession.

As I pursue my Doctorate in Education with a focus on Organizational Leadership, I have found my time on the Board to be an invaluable source of experiential education. The future of our profession is only as strong as the people in whom we entrust it. I am truly fortunate to be have been afforded the opportunity to educate our future leaders, healthcare providers, and change makers. As the boundaries of technology continue to blur the line between artificial intelligence and human touch, we will need leaders ready at the helm.

Growth, both personal and professional, comes through a continual process of self-reflection and selflessness. I stand before you on the shoulders of those who have led the charge in creating a strong foothold for our profession. I have been afforded the opportunity to impact our profession at a state level through my current Governor-appointed role as Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Registration for Physician Assistants. In addition to making an impact on patient lives, serving on the Board allows me to have a wider impact on physician assistant practice, education, and policy. It is from this, larger perspective, that I have seen advocacy truly make a difference.

As I continue to cultivate my knowledge both in clinical practice and academia, I look forward to continuing my service through the role of Director at Large.


1. What attributes characterize a high-performing Board member and which of these attributes do you possess?

In my time served on the Board, I have learned that representing the collective voice of the profession requires collaboration, thoughtful inquiry, and strategic engagement. My leadership philosophy is rooted in the diversity of experiences I have had the fortune of being part of. The mission of the organization, “Leadership, innovation, and excellence in PA education” speaks to my strengths of strategic planning, leadership engagement, and vision planning. The microcosm of individual programs adds strength to that purpose and defines the path the Association will take. I am a strong believer in bringing our collective experiences together to reshape the healthcare landscape. Effective boards inspire, motivate, and allow the natural growth process to take place both individually and collectively. In order for the work of the Board to be compelling, the goals, mission, and vision have to be aligned with those of the practicing professionals and educators we represent. As an Association, we must plan for the future — the future of our profession, our education, and our impact. As our profession struggles with growing pains, the message I choose to convey is, “Don’t command, collaborate.”


2. How do you think the competency-based medical education movement will affect PA education in the next 5-10 years and what should PAEA do to help programs incorporate CBME?

Adult education at its core is undergoing a revolution. What we know about how we learn has informed what we know, how we know it, and how best to apply it. As education pedagogy shifts from teacher-centered to learner-centered, we as educators need to evolve with the changing face of learning. Where PAEA can help is in leading the charge in the writing of policies and procedures of assessment. As the education association, we are best equipped to harness the power of our collective knowledge and expertise to benefit the future of our profession. One of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks is to design a curriculum where the learner feels secure and the educator imparts knowledge. Competency based education puts emphasis on learning over time. As our fellow professions shift from process-based teaching to a more comprehensive competency-based curriculum, we too, need to align our accreditation standards and continue to modernize the PA curriculum. Working with our partner organizations to put forth ideas on how to implement outcomes-based competencies for the collective benefit of programs and the profession should be our first priority. While assessments will always be a part of how students are trained, the learning and acumen attained through competency-based education will prove invaluable in the training of the new generation. It is not enough to teach, we must learn to learn and infuse this philosophy throughout our curriculum.


3. "If you have seen one program, you have seen one program," is a phrase often heard in PA education circles. Will this emphasis on program uniqueness continue to serve the profession moving forward? Why or why not?

Medicine, like education, is a human-driven profession. Just as we focus our efforts on individualized patient care, we must understand that each PA program brings together a unique combination of education, service, and community. Programs focus efforts on training generalist PAs while keeping in mind both personal (student) and patient (population) traits, such as societal and cultural disparities, technology, and continual transformation of health care delivery systems. There are many ways to solve a problem, and many ways to get to the answer. Our program variety contributes to the diversity of thought and application of knowledge which is partially what has led to the success of the profession. With every program that opens, new ideas are cultivated, new trends are explored, and new leaders are born. Healthcare systems will continue to get more complex and intricate, and as the population lives longer and ages, the burden of leading care and care teams will fall on the next generation of providers. We need to educate our students not for the day they graduate, but for the next 50 years of their practice. We need to teach our students to think beyond our borders and be leaders on the global stage. While program “uniqueness” is important, we must balance this with the greater vision of graduating competent, and practice-ready providers. As the healthcare landscape changes, we need to balance growth with innovation to allow for the exchange of fresh ideas.


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