Kevin Schuer, DrPH, PA-C
Director at Large Platform Statement
I respectfully declare my candidacy for the director at large position on the PAEA Board of Directors. Over the past nine years, I have been honored to serve PAEA in a variety of settings. In January 2016, I was elected Director at Large to the Association's Board of Directors. The past two years on the Board has been some of the most rewarding and professionally enriching. At the same time, the work has been challenging and profession transforming. From the political landscape nationally to the instructor-student relationship programmatically, physician assistant educators are facing unique challenges. My current and former service responsibilities at the institutional, state and national levels have provided me the leadership experience requisite for the duties expected of a PAEA board member. I am eager for continued service to an organization that provides so much for PA educators.
Graduate medical education as well as PA education is experiencing significant change that now emphasize student competence and instructional outcomes. PAEA continues to lead by investing in physician assistant programs/faculty, as well as in valuable partnerships with other professional organizations (ie: Association of American Medical Colleges-AAMC, Society of Teachers of Family Medicine–STFM) that help the association collaboratively navigate these changes. Additionally, I feel it important that the following two issues warrant the full attention of the PAEA board in the coming years:
- Faculty/Student Leadership Development: Growing diverse and inclusive student/faculty leaders is crucial as the number of PA programs continues to rapidly expand. PAEA's support of this issue is vital to organizational and educational viability.
- Research Expansion/Curricular Innovation: PAEA should continue to emphasize and support research and scholarly creativity among PA educators. Further, curricular innovation, and data used to support high functioning and efficacious curricular modifications, will allow the association and its membership to increase its effectiveness and influence.
During a time of rapid and expansive change, PAEA and the board will continue to work diligently to craft a strategic plan whose vision is calculated and innovative. It would be a privilege to be re-elected to the PAEA board of directors and to continue to cultivate new as well as realize current goals germane to PAEA's vision and strategic plan.
What attributes characterize a high-performing Board member and which of these attributes do you possess?
Over the last 2 years, I have been fortunate to serve on the PAEA Board. It has been an incredibly enriching and valuable experience for me. Given this experience, I have developed a keen awareness of attributes that contribute to high performing Board members. High performing Board members must be diligent in their preparation, exceptional communicators and professionals who are engaged. Members must possess elements of these attributes in order for the board to function successfully. Given both the amount and variety of information as well as responsibility the board has in the operation of PAEA, board member preparation is critical. Members of the board spend a significant amount time scanning the environment as a means to identify external opportunities as well as threats relative to the association. Members must be prepared in advance of meetings in order to participate fully at the Board table. Secondly, I have learned that high functioning Board members are those who are sound communicators. Board members should be expected to have previously demonstrated excellence in communication and would also be expected to refine these skills while serving. Finally, high performing board members are engaged and are participatory. The Association benefits when there is diversity of thought around the board table. Rich discussion is generated by Board members who prepare, communicate effectively and who are engaged in the conversation. These are all attributes I have developed while working on the Board and attributes I find critical for anyone aspiring to this leadership position.
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?
I believe it's essential to first understand what an “OTP environment” actually is. Secondly, it should be determined how this policy shift is influencing key physician assistant stakeholders. I remain concerned that the concept of OTP will be viewed solely as a move towards independent practice by PAs. Given this concern, it is vital that the PA education community sharpen their knowledge relative to OTP and the issues the AAPA are trying to address with implementation of this policy. Further, the PA education community has a responsibility to educate and discuss these issues with our students. We should also encourage and provide spaces for our students to explore the issues surrounding optimal team practice. The debate and now reality of OTP has also demonstrated that we need to encourage and cultivate programs of excellence in leadership training for physician assistant students. In order for the profession to manage growth effectively, to develop and actuate progressive and effective health care policy and grow its professional footprint, formal training in leadership is crucial. The board and Association should look towards ways in identifying programs that are either exemplars currently, or have substantial opportunity for, student leadership training. We need our graduates to aspire to leadership positions in education and administration. These dreams are cultivated and solidified in our classrooms and should be issues the Association investigates to best prepare our students to practice and be leaders in an OTP environment.
Describe a significant challenge you have faced as a leader and the strategies you used to respond effectively.
I've heard it said that "adversity is inevitable, but stress is optional." This anecdote has been a simple but powerful tool that I've used both personally and professionally as a physician assistant educator. As my leadership opportunities have grown, a variety of professional challenges have followed. To me, this is expected as any good leader knows that adversity and challenge is a part of the leadership territory. No matter the challenge, strategies used to effectively manage the issue begin with a thoughtful collection of all of the facts. Depending on the situation, this is a necessary and critical first step in addressing issues. Secondly, it is important to decipher both the level of importance and urgency of the challenge, and thirdly, the determination of whether or not a decision needs to be made. I have found that having a consistent and thoughtful approach when responding to personal and professional challenges has allowed me lead effectively. Responding in a manner that moves people in a positive direction is an essential quality of an effective leader. Over the last 2 years I have used this approach while on the PAEA Board as the Association has wrestled with any number of challenges. The Board has helped move the Association in a positive direction during uncertain times and this can be primarily attributed to leaders utilizing effective problem solving strategies as described above.
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