Board Candidate

Elias Villarreal, Jr., MPAS, PA-C

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Director at Large Platform Statement

It is a great honor and a pleasure to be nominated to serve you as a Director-at-Large. Through my extensive leadership experience, I have learned volumes about the intricacy of the process of state and national representation. I have worked hard to foster open communication between state and national entities. I have been a PA practicing part-time in family medicine and orthopedics for the past 21 years. My career as an educator began early and I am quite proud to be completing my 20th year as an educator this year. I place a very high value on my PAEA membership as it provides me with a strong base for career development and a wealth of networking opportunities with some of the most brilliant minds in our profession. My CV speaks volumes about my leadership acumen and skills. I have served on the Board of Directors for the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants for 15 years in every elected position available including President on two occasions. I have been Awards Committee member and chair as well as member of the Leadership Development and Recruitment Council with PAEA in the recent past. My experience and knowledge of PAEA organizational changes and directions are current.

These are exciting and challenging times in the history of our profession and of PAEA. There are a number of initiatives which will directly influence how our organization evolves, and how it will serve and communicate with its members in education and our professional colleagues in the other orgs. Chief among these are the needs to clearly define our future position regarding optimal team practice (OTP) and alternative recertification models, insuring that our position as professional health care providers and educators of quality care and education are valued in the years ahead as we prepare for the coming of a new age in healthcare. It will be necessary for PAEA leadership to continually improve our excellent educational programs and their faculty so that they retain their value and broad appeal. Paving a pathway to these initiatives will require experience, clear vision, and thoughtful planning and communication with the other orgs to be successfully implemented. I look forward to my participation in leading the direction of the organization. I pledge to be accessible, to listen carefully and to represent faculty at all programs.

It is a great privilege to be a candidate for Director-at-Large. I will do my best to be worthy of your trust as Director-at-Large in my commitment to serve PAEA.

Thank you for your consideration.

Q&A

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

Board members should possess transparency, a willingness to consider different points-of-view in a professional manner, and experience. Although I feel I possess all 3, experience is my greatest attribute. I have served on the Board of Directors, including President twice, for the Texas Academy of PAs for 15 years. I have also served as a committee chair for PAEA for 6 years and as a member of LDRC as well. My leadership experience at the Board level is extensive and I feel would be an asset to the PAEA Board of Directors.

 

The AAPA House of Delegates recently passed a resolution titled Optimal Team Practice that calls for the elimination of state laws and regulations that require a PA to have and/or report a supervisory, collaborating, or other specific relationship with a physician in order to practice. What changes, if any, do you think will need to occur in PA education to prepare new graduates to practice in an OTP environment?

Is this a trick question? This a difficult question to answer because so much of what has been proposed about OTP is still not "official" nor is it actionable as of yet. Although I agree with some of the parts of the OTP agreement, I'm also weary of the implications for education and educators and students alike. Having been a delegate on the HOD this year, I abstained from the vote because I could not decide at that moment, if things were as fleshed out as they could have been for all 4 orgs involved. My opinion is that if OTP is to be successfully implemented and then put into action in federal and state law, all 4 orgs must first come to an agreement about the pros and cons of the current proposal, or, perhaps even start by examining the documented presented in Las Vegas for its merits and it shortcomings for each of the 4 orgs. Once that is completed, it is also necessary to study, carefully and purposefully, the impact of the new "shared" proposal on as many steak holders as possible. This includes practicing PAs, PA students, educators, PA programs, hospitals, patients, physicians, NPs, the healthcare team model, etc. The vision I see is one of a long road to paving this way for OTP. This is a very complex issue.

 

Describe a significant challenge you have faced as a leader and the strategies you used to respond effectively.

One of the most challenging things I have had to deal with has been the "change" process. I have faced "change" in all Board positions I have held, in all chair positions I have led, and even in my new job as program director. As a leader, inspiring others and leading others to change is difficult and the subject of countless volumes of text. I will keep it pretty simple and say what we commonly hear, "Change is hard and no one likes it." I'm a strong believer in silver linings and strengths-based leadership. Focusing on the positive and using the negatives as opportunities to make change happen in light of the positive improvements change will bring about is key to making it happen. Focusing on strengths of both individuals and the collective is a strategy that has allowed me to be able to bring about change in some of the most difficult situations. I have many examples and many strategies in my 20 years as a PA educator and leader. There are too many to list here. But, I will say, where there is a black cloud, there is also a rainbow. Being mindful and keeping an open mind have been the hallmarks of my success thus far.

 

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