2018 PAEA Education Forum: Board Candidate

Howard Straker, EdD, MPH, PA

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President Elect Platform Statement

PAEA has experienced a period of growth and change, and subsequently we adjusted our volunteer and staff structures. Correspondingly, we must build an infrastructure for excellence in PA education through products and services that readily respond to the needs of faculty, programs, the PA profession, and the American health care system. As an organization, we should enhance the skills of PAEA members in: educating PA students to become excellent clinicians, conducting research about the PA workforce, and in leading PA programs, as well education and health institutions.

Optimizing our growth requires a continued focus on diversity across several areas. I value inclusion and diversity — diversity of perspective and diversity of composition — as methods to achieve excellence. I see diversity and inclusion as the process by which we achieve quality health for our organization and for society.

I value collaboration as a tool essential to achieving excellence. I value the experience, needs, and wants of our membership, our staff, and board members. Collaboration means achieving a common vision of our future contributions and working together toward our best outcomes.

We must be decisive and take courageous action as we navigate the complex waters of change and complexity to place PA education in the forefront of healthcare and education. Increasing clinical training sites and leveraging technology in education are among the issues I will promote through courageous conversations and decision-making.

PAEA has experienced tremendous growth in the recent past, and I will work tirelessly to continue to advance PA education in the future.


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

The Board’s purpose is to ensure the success of PAEA by representing the interests of the members, providing direction and leadership through current issues, and guiding the organization into the future. Achieving this purpose requires in-depth inquiry into issues, asking questions that search for root causes, exploring the values and assumptions of various positions, and considering new ideas, all to make good decisions. A high functioning Board member contributes to the team in a manner that facilitates these functions. She or he must operate with an enthusiasm for PA education and PAEA, and have a high regard for other team members, including challenging their ideas and being accountable for the work to be done. I believe that diversity and collaboration lead to excellence. Therefore, I usually listen and think before adding to discussions and will challenge ideas and offer new or different perspectives, including playing the devil’s advocate role. My experience working across various PA programs and with numerous PA educators over the years allows me insight into the range of interests and issues of our membership. I enjoy working within a team and can pay attention to a breadth of issues, from big picture to procedural detail (important for the role of Secretary). I am excited about PAEA and contributions we make to PA education, the PA profession and health care. These are some of the attributes I bring to the Board.


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?

CBME is an approach to educating clinicians that is focused on defined outcomes (competencies) based on the needs of patient and society. It is a learner-centered approach that emphasizes the outcome of the learner’s application of knowledge and skills as opposed to the acquisition of knowledge. CBME has gained traction over the past 15 years and will grow exponentially across health professions education in the next ten years. This potential grow means that PA education will have to define graduate competencies, design curriculum for our learners, and develop multiple assessments to measure learner acquisition of identified competencies. PAEA has already begun to lead the way for CBME through the 2016 PA Stakeholder Summit, and the PA Accreditation and Core Competencies Task Forces. Once PA education has agreed on our new graduate competencies, PAEA can help our members by developing resources and modules for PA faculty development, facilitating research into PA CBME and promoting best practices. CBME will require changes in the PA student learning environment, placing attention on active learning and learner feedback, both in the academic and clinical environments. PAEA should advocate for: increased resources for PA education, including additional clinical learning sites, additional training for and recognition of clinical preceptors and accreditation that reflects the outcomes based education. The organization should partner with ARC-PA, NCCPA, and AAPA to design and implement CBME as well as work with patient and other provider communities.


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?

This phrase is a reflection of the uniqueness of PA programs that has helped advance PA education over that past 50 years. At the same time it has obstructed us. For example, the lack of standardized pre-PA requirements creates difficulties for PA school candidates and college advisors to plan to prepare generally for applying to PA school. Likewise, the lack of standardized competencies for graduates forces employers to guess the ability of graduates based on the PA program from which they graduated. Employers are not sure what a new PA can do on day one.

Standardizing the prerequisites for PA entry, along with new graduate competencies and tools to assess competency attainment, will increase trust in the capability of new PAs. This increased trust will allow new PAs to practice at their full capability. Knowing that all PA programs produce the same outcome, assessed the same way, will permit PA educational programs the freedom to design and innovate the delivery of their programs. They can have different structures and processes, but they will all work toward the same the outcome – the competent PA. Candidates may then select PA programs based on alignment with their needs and preferences.

If we standardize competencies across PA programs, then we can retain the phrase, “if you have seen one program, you have seen one program,” while assuring greater confidence in the capabilities of all new PAs.


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