June 2007
PAEA Networker

Partnerships: An Important Piece of Our Past and Our Future

Anita Duhl Glicken, MSW

Last month, I had the privilege of addressing AAPA’s House of Delegates. It was a humbling experience to speak to leaders who play such an important role in the profession. I described the critical need for partnerships to identify clinical sites and preceptors and emphasized that, while the future has never looked brighter in terms of opportunities for growth in the profession and our educational programs, we cannot move forward unless we work together to address this important challenge. The dearth of clinical sites is just one example of an issue that might be resolved to some extent by increasing partnerships and communication within and outside the Association — an important focus of my first six months as president and one that I hope will continue for the remainder of my term.

This halfway mark of my term provides a natural point to look back at the past and forward to the future. I am pleased to provide an update on the progress of several PAEA activities that the Association will be working on over the next year and beyond.

We continue to make progress in setting a data and research agenda for the Association as part of our move toward being a knowledge-based organization. A recent survey of PAEA leadership validated the need for data collection across the continuum of PA education from application through graduation. Several potential data sets identified by the Data and Research Workgroup have been reviewed, and we are in the process of mapping content areas and questions. The workgroup and PAEA research staff will meet this month to continue this effort and explore mechanisms for collection and dissemination. We are looking at ways to include stronger service components in this process, including opportunities for benchmarking and the use of a central data collection portal that would prepopulate standard fields.

Several goals and strategic objectives were identified by the board earlier this year and presented in the February Networker, and these will be fleshed out in the final version of the Association’s strategic plan at an upcoming board meeting later this month. The overall goal of the Association is to be a leader in medical education. Goal areas are: leadership, advocacy, faculty development, communication, finance, and research. PAEA’s leaders were asked to provide input to this process as we refine the plan for our purposes and distill it throughout the organization. The strategic plan is a comprehensive one, and allows us to create an enduring process for planning and review of operations. For the first time this year, in addition to conducting an annual review of PAEA staff, we will have the ability to thoughtfully evaluate the effectiveness of our board and leadership in advancing our organizational agenda.

PAEA is also exploring partnerships with external organizations to advance a visioning project on the future of PA education. We see this as a broad-based initiative that will allow us to share strategies to address emerging issues in education. For its part, PAEA is interested in creating an understanding among the other health professions organizations of how PAs practice, considering the ways in which the PA practitioner workforce is likely to evolve over the next 20 years, and evaluating how today’s PA training matches anticipated changes in practice and the evolving role of PA practitioners. Discussions on these topics would help us think about the strengths and weaknesses of PA training methods, along with the opportunities and threats associated with either maintaining the status quo or changing it. Current evidence in medical education, including the assessment of competence, will further inform discussions and become a basis for dialogues about the future. The opportunity to proactively consider emerging data and information related to educational theory, patient needs, scientific developments, and an evolving workforce will bring us closer to our goal and position the Association and its constituents to be leaders in education.

Our upcoming Education Forum provides a wonderful opportunity for us to strengthen partnerships with our medical education colleagues. For the first time, our fall meeting, scheduled for October 24-28, in Tucson, will include a special full-day program for deans from our PA educational institutions. In addition, two distinguished speakers, Richard Krugman, MD, and Francis Collins, MD, PhD, will join PA educators — and our deans — to mark an important milestone in the profession’s history — the 40th anniversary of the first PA graduates. Dr. Krugman, who currently serves as chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges, vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, began his academic career at the university in 1975 as director of admissions for the Child Health Associate Program and served as codirector from 1977 to 1981. Dr. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health, along with acting Surgeon General Ken Moritsugu, MD, recently assembled PA leadership at NHGRI to advance the profession’s unique role in incorporating genomics into patient care. Both men are well positioned to address us on this occasion.

We will keep you informed about the Education Forum as it draws nearer. Expect to receive the preliminary program and registration materials around the first week of July. Note that the registration deadline this year is September 15. Reminders and updates will be e-mailed regularly to all members, and additional details will be published on the PAEA Web site. My second quarterly report will be mailed to program directors, committee chairs and members, and liaisons early in July and will include more details about the meeting, as well. We hope you will join us in Tucson as we celebrate our rich past and embrace a very promising future.