Board Candidate

Harry Pomeranz, MSPH, PA-C

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Director at Large Platform Statement

I respectfully declare my candidacy to represent you as director-at-large of PAEA. I am committed to our profession and to PAEA's mission, and would be honored to serve you in this capacity.

The role of PAEA has evolved in response to the needs of the times, our patients and of our profession. The meteoric rise in the number of PA programs and significant changes in the delivery of health care will require us to harness our energies and respond effectively to these challenges.

I believe that the following spheres are critical areas for us to focus on:

  • Clinical training: A critical issue facing many PA programs is the need for more clinical sites, especially in primary care. We need to be creative, collaborative and tactical in our approach, utilizing national and state resources to increase opportunities for our students and improve the care of our patients. PAEA can play a major role by coordinating these efforts and offering support and guidance to new programs.
  • Legislation and advocacy: PAs are developing more of a national presence in the discussion and shaping of health care delivery. Increasing our lobbying efforts locally and nationally will strengthen us. Coordinating our efforts with physicians, hospitals, communities and other stakeholders is a critical step.
  • Faculty development: PAEA has been very active in training new and experienced faculty members, and we need to increase these efforts in response to the emerging needs of new faculty and new programs.
  • Diversity: There is a growing need to diversify our profession as a means to improve the educational process for all students and to improve the care for all of our patients. Individual PA programs and institutions should develop specific goals for diversity that are reflected in their mission statements and according to the needs of the communities they serve.
  • Research: We need to gather more data that supports our important role in health care delivery and publish our own research. As educators, we need evidence-based information on how to more effectively teach our students.

I have had the privilege of serving on the board of directors of PAEA as director-at-large from 2014 to 2016. This experience has strengthened my commitment to our organization and has broadened my perspective on the issues that affect our profession.

I hope to have the privilege to represent you on the Board of Directors as our profession and association continue to grow.

Q&A

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

A member of the BOD needs to possess a combination of personal attributes that include a collaborative approach to decision-making and focused listening, with an understanding of how the issues discussed and the decisions made will impact the present and future needs of the organization and the profession. It is important to encourage constructive feedback and opposing viewpoints during discussions in order to reach a deeper understanding and a consensus. Reflection, foresight and scanning of the internal and external environments are necessary to develop long-term strategies.

I have had experiences that helped me to develop some of these attributes. As a member of the BOD, I developed broader strategic perspectives as we struggled with challenges and opportunities that arose from different arenas. The interactions with the board members, facilitators, and other professional organizations have helped me to develop a more generative and tactical approach to resolve complex problems. I had the opportunities to refine and reflect on PAEA's strategic plans and to develop better resources for our members. I have served on 2 PAEA committees and chaired the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion for 6 years. These roles provided me with opportunities to collaborate with the committee members, committee chairs and the board. I can appreciate what the volunteers can offer and how they can be integrated into PAEA.

I am continuously learning to broaden my vision, to pay close attention to the changes that are occurring, and to consider creative approaches to solving problems.

 

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?

Historically, the goal of PA education has been to train entry level generalist practitioners, who can also work in other areas of medicine or surgery. At the heart of PA education was the concept of teamwork, of collaboration with a physician who possessed more training in that specific field of medicine. We admitted, trained and graduated PAs with those goals in mind.

The participants at the PAEA Stakeholder Summit of 2016 voiced concerns that PAs graduating now were not prepared to evaluate and manage patients upon entering the health care workforce.

Training a student to become an independent practitioner would require a major overhaul of PA education. Admitted students would have to be more prepared in the sciences and possess problem-solving skills. Attributes such as emotional intelligence and the ability to make decisions and accept responsibility would be key. Competitive applicants may require significant health care experience to better understand patient care.

The curriculum would need to be expanded so that graduates are more knowledgeable in all areas of medicine or surgery. It is likely that postgraduate programs would play an important role in training for specific fields. Students would need to be more familiar with the administrative, legal and financial sides of health care as well. Clinical rotations would need to provide students the opportunities to function more independently and at a higher level. Faculty members would need to be proficient in more areas and would need to have experience as independent practitioner themselves.

 

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

I had started in a new position as the chief PA of an em0ergency department. PAs had not worked in this ED for several years and I started to hire a new group to work there. During my first week I was confronted by a situation in which an ED nurse refused a verbal order for my patient. I had to stop and quickly write the order in the chart before it was carried out. This was a new experience for me in my 14 years in EDs.

I discussed the matter with the director of the ED who proposed that I initiate a dismissal of that nurse for insubordination and for placing the patient at risk.

I decided to first meet with the head nurse in the ED to discuss the roles of PAs and nurses. She related a situation that occurred a few years prior in which a PA gave a verbal order for a medication, which was then administered. The patient's condition deteriorated, partly as a result of that medication. The PA denied requesting that medication and blamed the nurse for giving the wrong medication. After that incident, the nurses refused to respond to verbal orders from PAs.

I developed a process where I would take full responsibility for any verbal order from an ED PA. I held regular meetings with the nurses and PAs to encourage discussion of any concerns. Communication, respect, and mutual understanding are tools that I commonly use in my interactions.

 

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