Board Candidate

Thomas Parish, DHSc, MPH, PA-C

Download C.V.

Director at Large Platform Statement

I believe that a board member must possess a record of successful leadership, and the intellectual curiosity to carefully evaluate issues important to all PA programs and faculty members. I have been a PA for thirty-six years, with sixteen years as a faculty member, twelve of those years as a PA program director. In addition, I retired from the Air Force with a progression of leadership experiences as a non-commissioned officer, a warrant officer, and an officer.

The important issues facing PA educators include; the rapid growth in the number and size of PA programs, implementation of a recent reorganization of our volunteer structure, ongoing concerns about recruiting and maintaining adequate numbers of preceptors for our clinical students, and a determination of the impact that implementation of Optimal Team Practice might have on the content and duration of our entry level training for PAs. Managing these issues will require communication and coordination with all four PA organizations, and in some cases could benefit from coordination of effort with outside health professions organizations facing similar challenges.

I would be happy to lend my support and experience to the Board in support of PAEA leadership and the many volunteers who have helped to thoughtfully navigate the issues facing our programs and faculty.


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

I believe that high functioning Board members must be organized, and have experience at the PA program level with demonstrated leadership skills. I do not feel that Board members must have answers to current issues already formulated. But they must possess the intellectual curiosity to gather information, share ideas, seek common ground, and then recognize the next logical steps as issues evolve.

I have had leadership roles in the military, in clinical practice as a department chair, on advisory boards to the Board of Medicine in Ohio and in Virginia, and finally, as a program director for the last twelve years.

Each of these roles, to some degree, required the attributes I have mentioned.


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 think it remains to be seen how many of the recommendations from OTP can be implemented in each of the states. Some, will likely be more successful than others. But, as implementation occurs, programs must revise curricula to reflect the changes in the way we represent ourselves to the public and the medical community. In addition, the clinical curricula will need to reflect the new level of autonomy recommended in OTP. We may need to carefully document each students clinical progress, to include more independent patient management, to ensure that our students are ready to graduate into this more autonomous environment.

I am happy to see that PAEA was able to influence the final language of OTP to allow the level of autonomy to be determined at the practice level.

I spent the last 36 years as a PA in an environment of supervision being the key to our practice and our good relationship with physicians. Embracing these changes will not come easily for everyone, including some of our physician colleagues. But, a crucial strength in our profession has been our flexibility and willingness to adapt to a changing healthcare environment. I am confident that we will use those skills to navigate an environment that includes OTP.


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

I was tasked with the evaluation of a PA program that had not met the performance goals of the Dean. I was able to spend some time observing the program, while talking to faculty, students, and community preceptors.

The result was a thorough evaluation of the major processes and a plan to address each area. Ultimately, with the help of students, faculty, and support of the administration, we were able to completely evaluate and revise the admissions process, the curriculum was extensively revised, and faculty teaching was greatly enhanced. In a couple of years time, our program became quite successful and our processes became the model for many other programs at the school. The keys to our success, were creating an environment where a collective vision enabled change, growth, and a desire for excellence. The program is now considered excellent, and the result is largely due to a wonderful and committed faculty, great students, and an administration willing to support excellent facilities.


View all candidates