2019 PAEA Education Forum

Board Candidate: Director at Large

Candidate Statement

Linda Sekhon,

It is a great honor to declare my candidacy for PAEA Director at Large. Having been a member of PAEA since 1996, I vividly recall my transition to academics and learning the landscape of PA education. I witnessed the outstanding contributions this organization made to my personal growth as an educator and future leader. Through my prior service on the PANDO Workshop Committee and as a Faculty Skills 101 facilitator, I continued to see this impact on those entering PA education and the profession.

As the Founding Program Director at High Point University, I recognize firsthand the inherent challenges programs face each and every day. It is evident now more than ever that the world of medicine will continue to evolve and change. 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 graduates as they transition into this ever-changing medical climate. Innovations to meet these demands are driven by the development of entrustable professional activities, PA graduate competencies, and outcomes-based accreditation. PA educators need a roadmap to successfully traverse this new terrain, be creative, explore possibilities, and aim for excellence.

To be successful, our leadership must not only demonstrate collegiality but also summon a powerful resolve. 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 paved the road for those who are now ready to follow. They are the lifeforce of the organization and the reason we will continue to soar to new heights of excellence.

I firmly believe 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.

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

Through the years it has become apparent to me that the most effective board member is not always the individual with the greatest knowledge, but those who have a passion for the cause and a “can-do” attitude. These are individuals who are eager to participate, willing to prepare before meetings, anxious to serve on committees, willing to express their opinion, and strive to learn as much as possible. They become the “heart” of the team and the catalyst for team success. These attributes further support the development of a high-performing board with a focus on common tasks. This fosters communication in the form of attentive listening, asking the appropriate questions, and soliciting input to meet the common goal of being stewards for the organization.

I am often told that my passion and willingness to better understand organizational vision, strategic plan and established policies is one of my greatest attributes. I believe that this serves as the foundation for the many contributions I bring to serving on a board. These contributions include problem solving which incorporates 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. Resolute and confident decision makers are guided by organizational vision, strategic plan and established policies. In addition to my experience and expertise I bring a passion and desire for learning and developing broad strategic perspectives that will move the organization forward.

2. What do you believe will be PAEA’s biggest opportunity in the coming years given the ongoing changes in health care and higher education?

Identifying healthcare trends can be daunting for PA faculty and PAEA must remain vigilant in setting direction and tone. PAEA’s 2019-2020 Advocacy Agenda outlines legislative goals that focus on several professional opportunities. One of these is “Faculty Support.” While this aligns with the PAEA mission, it takes on a new meaning as faculty attempt to traverse the everchanging healthcare environment. Opportunities that focus on the development of program leadership and faculty support across the continuum will grow in importance as we prepare future PA providers to enter into the evolving healthcare arena. Funding for curriculum creation, integration of technology, and enhancement of teaching and research must become a priority.

As PA educators we must remain open to change and strengthen our understanding of how educational trends may affect our profession and educational outcomes. Faculty will require support as we explore avenues that enhance educational initiatives. There will be a growing need for PA faculty to obtain additional academic credentials, including doctoral degrees in research, public health, policy, or education to support implementation. For the PA profession to remain relevant we have opportunities to identify and facilitate funding resources that will support faculty acquisition of the necessary credentials to support change. Curricular changes also require an investment in technology and program infrastructure to support implementation. Policy advocacy training and educating faculty on funding resources will be an essential component for success.

3. In recent years, PAEA has advocated for a more outcomes-based approach to PA education and accreditation, including developing competencies for new graduates and working with the ARC-PA on outcomes-based accreditation. What do you see as the next steps in advancing this work?

PA educators must remain vigilant in understanding how educational trends affect educational outcomes. As a profession we value teamwork and promote patient-centered care in the practice of medicine. The design of the New Graduate Competencies is intended to drive curricular decisions that keep the patient at the center of care with a focus on outcomes. Moving toward a “profession-defined” outcomes-based model for accreditation will allow for greater innovation and flexibility to incorporate these competencies into PA education. In many ways, we already embrace many of the educational benefits of outcomes-based approaches to PA education, including: a focus on outcomes, multifaceted formative and summative assessments, and accountability to stakeholders with regard to expectations in meeting profession-defined competencies.

Unfortunately, inconsistencies in definitions and framework remain a significant obstacle for programs. PA educators need a roadmap to successfully traverse this new terrain, be creative, and aim for excellence. PAEA has an opportunity to provide clarity as well as the framework for program implementation. As educators we must learn how to best incorporate the New Graduate Competencies in a manner that is compliant with ARC Standards. We have an opportunity to assist programs in becoming proficient in a self-assessment process that will ensure the attainment of program-defined outcomes. This process must value program uniqueness while maintaining professional standards and accountability to stakeholders. PAEA can play a large role in exploring models and guidance to inform implementation strategies across the curriculum, efficient use of resources, and development of educational milestones and professional activities.