2018 PAEA Education Forum: Board Candidate

Michelle DiBaise, DHSc, PA-C

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Director at Large Platform Statement

I am running for the position of Director-At-Large of the PAEA Board of Directors. I am a Professor at the AT Still University PA Program in Mesa, Arizona. Over my 28 year career as a PA, I have served in a number of leadership roles for the PA profession. These include:

  • Chair and Member, PAEA Governance Council/Governance and Ethics Board, 5 years
  • Director at Large, AAPA Board of Directors, 4 years
  • President of 4 constituent organizations (COs) Nebraska, Iowa, Arizona, and Society of Dermatology PAs
  • Vice President, Chief Delegate and Graduate Advisor of the Student Academy of the AAPA, 6 years
  • Delegate HOD for four separate COs for 20 years

These opportunities have allowed me to develop strong knowledge of policy development and implementation. My specific strengths include strategic planning and visioning, budgeting, public speaking, and team collaboration. I have a passion for improving the diversity of our profession as well as a commitment to training students to provide outreach to underserved communities. I was awarded an nccPA Health Foundation grant for Oral Health Education among the underserved in 2015, the Society for Teachers of Family Medicine Smiles for Life Research Award in 2016, and a PA Foundation Impact grant in 2017, which focused on care coordination and integrated practice in the homeless population undergoing substance abuse rehabilitation. In addition, I collaborated with representatives of two in-state universities to develop a free clinic providing interprofessional care to the homeless of central Phoenix. My experience in obtaining federal funding includes co-authoring an HRSA Primary Care Training and Enhancement (PCTE) program grant.

I believe that access to loan forgiveness for PA faculty, improving PA program funding streams, and developing a pipeline of quality future faculty are some of the most significant issues facing our profession at this time. I have long been an advocate for the profession, and am comfortable and experienced in connecting with legislators to ensure that these issues are prioritized by congressional policy developers. If elected, I will advocate for our member programs. I will bring an open mind and passion to the Board in service to the membership. I would be honored to serve as Director At-Large of the PAEA Board of Directors.


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

High-performing board members should bring a constellation of attributes including, an ability to scan the environment for threats and opportunities, assist with strategic visioning, and to align the board focus by prioritizing the issues that need to be addressed while at the same time safe-guarding the mission and vision of the organization. High-performing board members should be objective, open and honest, and provide effective communication to both members of the board and staff, in addition to the PAEA program members. A high-performing board member should be adaptable and have the courage to innovate. This courage must be balanced by monitoring performance through the use of metrics and benchmarking which are utilized not only for improvement or development of products and services, but also in a commitment to continuous Board performance improvement, providing clarity of board and staff roles, and in the ongoing building of trust and respect. Over my 28 year career as a PA, I have served in a number of leadership roles for the PA Profession that have aided in the development of many of these attributes. I have developed a strong knowledge of policy and the skill sets of environmental scanning, strategic visioning, budgeting, public speaking, and team collaboration. I am not afraid to take on innovative projects, but I temper this courage with outcomes measurements. I have participated in self-assessment measurements allowing for self-reflection and growth in my ability to effectively communicate and objectively listen to other members.


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?

Competency-based medical education (CBME) could revolutionize higher education in the next decade, but to be successful it will require significant systemic change. The focus of CBME is on outcomes (competency) not process (credits earned) in which the learner completes curriculum at their own pace and advances as they master concepts. CBME allows for previous experience and the potential for removing required courses that are not relevant to the learning outcomes. Allowing students to apply previously acquired competencies has the potential to increase student engagement in new knowledge acquisition. The downsides to CBME from a systems perspective include awarding of credits, meeting accreditation standards, maintaining a cohort in preparation for clinical rotations, and faculty workload. Credits are classically determined by contact hours and proscribed credit hour accrual leads to a degree. Credits determine financial aid packages as well. But how do you award credits when one student can complete the competency in 2 weeks and another in 2 months? Likewise, how do you plan rotations when the cohort moves at different speeds through the didactic material? The literature supports that experimental CBME programs are resource intensive with no proven improvement in the quality of providers as of yet. I anticipate that over the next decade, hybrid versions of CBME will be increasingly utilized within the current educational structure driven by faculty innovation to improve student engagement in learning. PAEA is poised to move CBME forward through faculty development and collaborating with other healthcare providers, administrators, and accreditors to advance PA education.


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?

Physician Assistant education begins with our accreditation standards which, while fairly proscribed, allow for variability on how each standard is accomplished. A number of factors drive that variability such as the type of institution (public vs private), the geographic locale, the educational experience of the faculty and much more. Next we factor in the mission of the program, the students that are admitted and the resources available to assist the students and faculty at the institution. Clinical rotations add in another layer of variability with the number and types of electives students choose. The final check for knowledge acquisition is the PANCE and if students pass the exam they become certified PAs. No student has the same journey as any other student even within the same program. In the end, the majority graduate and become compassionate, quality healthcare providers. Programs will always have unique features that allow students to select programs that best fit their own personal mission. At the same time, there are a great deal of similarities between programs. I believe PAEA should work to provide products and services that focus on program similarities (testing materials, educational content, faculty skills development) to collectively strengthen all programs. We should continue to celebrate the unique approaches to teaching and to share these diverse methods with our peers at the Education Forum.


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