2018 PAEA Education Forum: Board Candidate

Linda Sekhon, DHSc, PA-C

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Director at Large Platform Statement

It is a great honor to declare my candidacy for PAEA Director at Large. I am currently the Program Director at High Point University and have been a member of PAEA (previously APAP) since 1996. I vividly recall trying to figure out the landscape of PA education as a new faculty member and experienced first-hand the contributions this organization made through the years. Having served on the PANDO Workshop Committee and through my years as a Faculty Skills 101 facilitator, I continue to see this impact on those entering PA education and to the profession. These opportunities strengthened my desire to contribute and serve the profession at a national level.

As a long time delegate to the AAPA HOD, it has become increasingly clear that the world of medicine is changing. With the growing impact PAs have on the changing landscape, it is critically important for PAEA to have a consistent voice in setting direction and tone for our future. We need to lead efforts in preparing programs and PA graduates to transition into this ever-changing medical climate. Our leadership must not only demonstrate collegiality but also summon a powerful resolve as we traverse this new terrain. This will take a team of dedicated experts to interpret, communicate, explore and possibly implement change. I am fully prepared to lead with skill and diplomacy and to add my years of experience and expertise to the current leadership team.

Through my years of involvement with PAEA, I have demonstrated the ability to work collaboratively in a professional and ethical manner. I have appreciated the spirit of the individuals who organize and participate in the association and its activities. We are group of professionals dedicated to excellence in educating students, taking care of patients and one another. I have appreciated the opportunity to volunteer my time to make PAEA the best that it can be. My goal is to continue representing the best that we stand for as a Director at Large, and to educate, inspire and recruit the next generation of PA professionals to become involved in our profession. I look forward to contributing my talents to the Board, and to earning your vote!


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

Having served on various boards, for me the attributes that best characterize an effective board member is effective and open communication. This is critical when you are representing and interacting with multiple stakeholders at various levels. Communication at the board level must incorporate attentive listening, asking appropriate questions, and soliciting input.

The next attribute would be the ability to make difficult decisions. While communication and decision making are not mutually exclusive, there are times when an effective leader must be able to make fast and difficult decisions. It has been my experience that resolute and confident decision makers are guided by organizational vision, strategic plan and established policies. I am a firm believer that a well laid out strategic plan can provide excellent guidance for decision making at the board level. Particularly when there is clarity with vision, mission, objectives, strategies and action plans.

As a long time, educator I have had the privilege of serving as a faculty member and program leader in both established and new programs. Through this experience, I have had the opportunity to identify personal strengths and areas for growth. I believe that my skill in problem solving is supported by transparent communication strategies and recognizing that each problem has its own nuances that require a distinct approach. This approach has served me well when confronted with difficult decisions


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?

As PA educators we must be vigilant in our understanding of how all educational trends affect our profession and educational outcomes. In many ways, we already embrace many of the educational benefits of CBME, including: a focus on outcomes, multifaceted formative and summative assessments, and accountability to stakeholders with regard to expectations. Unfortunately, inconsistencies in CBME definitions and frameworks remain a significant obstacle. How the CBME movement will affect PA education is yet to be seen, but I strongly believe in a proactive approach.

With PAEA’s stated mission to “ensure quality PA education through the development and distribution of education services and products specifically geared toward meeting the emerging needs of PA programs, the PA profession and the health care industry”, it is evident that we need to address CBME and the possible impact on PA education. Of critical importance will be identifying the impact this has on the profession as a whole. It will be important to work collaboratively with the Four Orgs and invite constructive dialogue and facilitate an open exchange of ideas. Some of the concerns and challenges that programs will be faced with are related to practical, administrative and logistical challenges in implementing CBME curriculums. PAEA can play a large role in defining CBME and exploring models and guidance to inform implementation strategies across the curriculum, efficient use of resources, and development of educational milestones and professional activities.


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?

I transitioned into PA education in 1996 after a colleague and I heard about a very unique and innovative way medical education was being delivered at a local PA program. The program incorporated Problem Based Learning (PBL). There were many skeptics at the time – including myself. I share this because when I entered into PA education I did not fully value program uniqueness. As PA educators we recognize that learning styles vary and that our focus on outcomes and competencies are paramount. I have also seen a large difference in our student applicant pools through the years. We need to ensure we are meeting the needs of these unique and diverse applicants. As such, I do believe that an emphasis on program uniqueness will continue to serve the profession.

There are currently many unknowns in medicine. As faculty we must watch the profession and identify what direction the profession is going. Being in the trenches, we must look at educational innovations and educational methods to meet this everchanging medical environment. As educators we must be familiar with ARC standards and know how to incorporate unique educational trends in a manner that is compliant. Programs are gaining proficiency in self-assessment that allow us to make appropriate changes that ensure we are meeting professional competencies. This process ensures that we continue to value program uniqueness and the benefits to our profession while maintaining professional standards.


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