I respectfully declare my candidacy for President-Elect on the PAEA Board of Directors. I have been actively involved in volunteer service to PAEA since entering PA education 11 years ago. From 2013 to 2016 I served as Director-at-Large on the PAEA Board of Directors. My experience as Program Director and Associate Dean at the University of Colorado and my service on the PAEA board, committees, councils, task forces, and work groups has provided me with a strong foundation for continued contribution to the Association and the profession.
The PA profession is changing rapidly as we grow in numbers and adapt to an evolving and increasingly complex healthcare environment. As PA educators, we face the unique challenge of preparing PAs to enter the workforce at a time of significant change and unpredictability. I believe that we are stronger, more able to move forward, and better equipped to face adversity if we work together as a coalition of PA programs. Our greatest strength as an association resides in the collective energy, creativity, and diversity of experience and ideas that our member faculty and staff bring to PAEA.
In the past year, as divisive issues emerged among the PA organizations, PAEA proved that it can serve as a voice of reason for the profession while staying true to its mission. I hope to see PAEA continue to serve PA programs by positioning itself as a thoughtful but assertive member of the PA community. As discussions of PA autonomy, the terminal doctorate, and professional recertification continue to evolve, PAEA must be there at every step, advocating for PAs, PA educators, and member programs. The shortage of clinical sites is a complex, multifactorial problem and PAEA needs to continue to collaborate across professional organizations to find solutions. PAEA has been very effective in creating and growing products and services to meet faculty and program needs. By supporting and deploying our volunteer structures effectively, this should continue to be a top priority for the Association. There has never been a more critical time than now for national advocacy and PAEA should continue to support and grow its policy and advocacy efforts.
It would be a privilege to serve the association and its member programs and faculty. I hope you will consider allowing me to serve as President-Elect on the PAEA Board of Directors.
To be effective as a high-performing board member, one needs to be collaborative by nature; willing to acknowledge the strengths of others and to value the notion of a whole greater than the sum of its parts. While it is the responsibility of every board member to bring their ideas to the board room and engage in vigorous debate around important issues, at the end the day, we must value and support one another and the decisions we make as a team.
One also needs to be creative and confident. To work best as a high-functioning board, each of its members must be creative enough to bring new perspectives and differing ideas to the table, and confident enough to move forward with those ideas or accept when they are not supportable.
Finally, because the PAEA Board of Directors is entrusted with stewardship of the Association, it is the responsibility of each member of the board to always act with the best interests of the Association in mind. Board members must act with honesty and integrity, maintaining objectivity and exercising reasonable care in carrying out the charge of the board.
In my three years of service as a Director at Large, in my 11 years of volunteer service to the Association, and in my work as the program director of a highly regarded and innovative PA program, I believe that I have demonstrated that I possess all of these important attributes.
In May of this year, PAEA presented a white paper based on a survey of program directors, PAEA past presidents, and medical directors on the implications of OTP for PA programs. I stand in agreement with the majority of PA program directors surveyed on several important issues. A large majority of program directors felt that their programs' curricula do not prepare graduates for the OTP practice environment. Most felt that programs would need to be lengthened in the didactic AND clinical phases. Most program directors also felt that the current clinical site supply is not adequate to meet the needs associated with such a change. Importantly, a significant majority of those surveyed felt that the changes needed to accommodate to an OTP environment would negatively impact the diversity of applicants.
As PAs move toward independent practice, PA programs will need to make significant changes to didactic and clinical curriculums, many programs will increase in length, and the financial cost of becoming a practicing PA will likely increase. Additionally, the impetus to move to a terminal doctorate in the profession will almost certainly grow. These changes will require increased resources from programs and their home institution. Support from PAEA will be very important. Most critically, perhaps, will be the need for the “Four Orgs” to work together to ensure that education, professional practice, program accreditation, and certification align to support this change.
When I first came into the role of program director, I was replacing a very successful and experienced director, and moving from a faculty position into a role that would entail direct oversight of my faculty colleagues. This was challenging in several ways. I had to prove to a supportive but cautious administration that I could do the job while, at the same time, build trust within a faculty that was struggling to adjust to a restructured team, with me in a new and very different role. One of my most important strategies during this time of transition was to seek the mentorship of leaders within my own university administration and at PAEA. Another strategy that served me well was to engage my faculty in collaborative leadership. I am a collaborative leader by nature and I readily acknowledge that our program will not run effectively without teamwork and input from all members of the faculty.
I came into the position knowing that my greatest challenges in the year ahead would likely be in the navigation of interpersonal terrain. My colleagues were struggling to adjust to my new role just as I was trying to stay afloat and keep the program moving forward. I engaged outside entities to lead us through training around team-building. I continued to encourage dialogue within our small group of faculty and tried to listen to concerns with an open mind. Most importantly, I allowed time for adjustment and growth.