Board Candidate

Michel Statler, MLA, PA-C

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Director at Large Platform Statement

I respectfully declare my candidacy for the Director at Large position on the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) Board of Directors. I am currently the Program Director for the Physician Assistant Program at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science with prior experience at the PA programs at UT Southwestern University in Dallas, TX and Midwestern University in Glendale, AZ. I also had the distinct privilege of being the first PA educator on staff for PAEA which strengthened my desire to contribute on the national level.

During my first term on the board, I engaged in PAEA's strategic work that has centered on diversity and inclusion, clinical education, and faculty development. I served as a member of the Optimal Team Practice Task Force that was charged to develop a response to AAPA's resolution on Optimal Team Practice (OTP). The impact that OTP may have on PA education remains to be seen, so it is incumbent upon PAEA to lead efforts to prepare programs and their graduates to transition into potentially redefined practice settings.

My goal in seeking another term as Director at Large is to continue the good work being done on the national level on behalf of PA programs, students, and faculty. There is much that needs to be accomplished as we continue to explore challenges with securing quality clinical rotation sites. PAEA's recent advocacy efforts include support for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide credit to clinicians serving as preceptors to be eligible for the Merit-based Incentive Payment Systems (MIPS) which should provide an important incentive for clinical education. Our profession is at a critical juncture in its history, so it is vital that we maintain the quality of our educational programs as we explore innovative solutions to meet program needs.

Central to moving the profession forward is strengthening our relationships with our sister organizations. As educators, we should foster conversations that invite constructive dialogue and facilitate the open exchange of ideas. Working collaboratively with the Four Orgs on issues relating to education, accreditation, certification, and clinical practice not only benefit the profession as a whole, but also model behaviors we want our students to emulate.

I would be honored to serve the association and its members as a Director at Large member of the PAEA Board of Directors.


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

Topping the list of attributes for a high-performing Board member is the ability to think critically. The ability to objectively evaluate the issues that come before the Board is essential in order to thoroughly vet the subjects at hand to critically evaluate the associated pros and cons. Part of that vetting or generative process includes asking the right questions and being open-minded to alternate viewpoints and solutions. Central to fostering effective discussions is being respectful of others, being a good team player, and being able to build consensus. Other key attributes include being innovative, transparent, and a good communicator.

For myself, as a clinician and long-time educator, I have sought to think critically throughout my career in order to guide decision-making impacting patients, students, and the program. I've often described myself as someone who is able to appreciate both sides of an issue, which has allowed me to balance the merits of alternate opinions with the opportunities to find common ground. I once took a Dale Carnegie course on communicating with tact and diplomacy. The take-homes from that course continue to resonate with me about the importance how we communicate so that our message isn't lost in the delivery. In addition, my sense of dedication and responsibility prepare me as a Board member to help meet the needs of our members, students, and the Association.


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?

Prior to Optimal Team Practice (OTP) becoming a reality, PAEA conducted surveys of program directors, past presidents, and medical directors to gain their perspective on the potential impact. The consistent responses from these surveys, which were summarized in the PAEA OTP Task Force report, indicated that OTP would potentially impact the admission process, the content and duration of curriculum, and the degree for the profession. That said…will these changes actually happen? If so, where and how do we begin? Per Lao Tzu, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." In my mind, that first step begins with the individual programs as they objectively determine how to strengthen their admission process to better capture maturity and flexibility of applicants, and how to enhance the curriculum to promote critical thinking skills. These skills foster student problem-solving abilities while also creating mindfulness of boundaries and the need to ask for help. The impact on our relationships with our physician colleagues remains to be seen. Our profession was founded on the physician: PA relationship and since OTP calls for the elimination of a formal supervisory or collaborating relationship with a physician, I think it is paramount that PAEA reaches out to the physician associations, such as AAMC, to underscore the value of those relationships as efforts to redefine PA practice are established. Securing the input of our physician colleagues can help reinforce the importance of team-based medicine that begins in the educational process and continues into clinical practice.


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

As a lifelong fixer, one of the biggest challenges I faced when I became new program director was moderating my internal wiring so that I did not immediately respond with answers to fix any and all problems that arose. Day to day issues at the program can push buttons which tend to generate an energy of their own, which makes it even more important to step back from the emotion of the moment. First responses to these situations are not generally the best ones since those decisions tend to be more reactive and are often based on incomplete information. Reactivity can be infectious and can produce a heightened response among other faculty and staff. Getting all of the information for a given situation allows for a more considered response and keeps the reactivity button in check. Allison, my senior administrative assistant, often says that "there are three sides to every story." Accordingly, the first strategy learned was to take a time out in order to gain more information that helped make more informed decisions. Stepping back allowed time for the initial emotional response to subside and helped provide greater clarity as well. As a leader, it is less important to be the one with the answers that it is to empower others to be part of the solution which in turn facilitates their growth. Rewiring the fixer DNA is a work in progress, but the needle is moving in a positive direction for me and our department.


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