2019 PAEA Education Forum

Board Candidate: Director at Large

Candidate Statement

Reamer Bushardt,
PharmD, PA-C

PAEA will be a critical force in the ongoing growth of the PA pipeline and workforce, innovation in health professions education and research, and advocacy for better health for every American. Empowering our faculty and students with the knowledge, capabilities, resources, and passion to drive positive change and achieve excellence will always be the most important role of PAEA. As a candidate for director, I would work collaboratively to advance the rigor, quality, and effectiveness of PA education and faculty development. I have benefited from great mentors and invest much time in mentoring others and believe PAEA can build stronger networks for mentoring. With 15+ years as a PA and educator and 20+ years as a healthcare professional, I understand many opportunities and barriers that faculty and students face. I would leverage my experience, commitment to teamwork, creative problem-solving, track record for securing extramural funding, and talent for socially-responsible entrepreneurism to help PAEA build resources and solutions for its members, so they can tackle barriers and seize opportunities.

Several priorities are critical for PAEA to address: (1) increasing diversity of the PA profession, (2) strengthening the connection between PA education and healthcare employers, (3) innovating our current approach to clinical education, (4) elevating the influence of PAEA nationally and internationally on health professions education and practice, (5) advocating for competency- and outcomes-based accreditation, and (6) ensuring PA faculty have the right tools and guidance to be promoted, tenured, and flourish in their careers. My own blended career as a pharmacist and PA plus my leadership roles have shown me the power of interprofessional education, multidisciplinary research, and collaborative practice to drive better education, science, and health. I would strive to help PAs and PA educators gain momentum at the intersections of healthcare delivery and education – where there’s important work to do. Finally, I am committed to and have strived to honor the principles of character-based leadership in my own career and those I have led. PAs and PA students have an aptitude for leadership and community service. By nourishing these distinguishing characteristics and embracing character-based leadership, I believe our profession can continue to evolve into a powerful, influential force for high quality, safe, affordable and person-centered care and champion for health equity. I look forward to the opportunity to partner with fellow PAs and PA educators to realize a bright future for our profession and the next generation of PAs.

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Q&A

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

As I reflect on prior service experiences, I vividly recall the best teams and the least effective. Akin to the collaborative care that PAs deliver every day, a high-performing board member must be prepared and possess the right knowledge, skills and attitudes to influence and lead an organization. Effective board members are confident and passionate but value collaboration and diverse perspectives. An individual that recognizes diversity is a powerful strategy to make an organization more innovative and effective is off to a great start. I am a champion for diversity, because increasing diversity and fostering a culture of inclusion elevate our capacity to teach, learn, serve, and heal. The most effective boards I have experienced are full of passionate, engaged people. It is important that the mission and vision of the organization and success of those being served are more important to a board member than his or her own gains. PAs are the single greatest innovation in American healthcare, and I am passionate about advancing our profession. Finally, I observe the most effective board members are successful, accomplished leaders in their own careers. Experience, reflection, education, personal growth, and ongoing professional development help shape effective leadership. An effective board member brings important perspectives and relevant experience to share, skillful negotiation and consensus building, ethical decision making, and a track record of success as a fiduciary and administrator. My training and experience have prepared me to be a good contributor to PAEA’s board, and I welcome the opportunity to serve.
 

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?

Revisiting two previously mentioned priorities, I see tremendous opportunity for PAEA to take bold steps to strengthen connections between PA education and healthcare delivery systems while innovating how we deliver clinical education. These priorities are interrelated and are a focus of collaborative work I am engaged in with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Hearing from educators, health system executives and employers, patients and families, regulators and accreditation professionals, and frontline clinicians from all over the world on this issue has been a life-changing experience for me. During forums, workshops, and my own research, I have dived deep into the challenges faced by health professions educators (e.g. inadequate capacity for clinical education, taxing accreditation processes, faculty recruitment problems, barriers to interprofessional education, lack of resources, etc.), problems faced by patients and families (e.g. difficulty with access, disconnected care delivery or transitions in care, high costs of care, not feeling heard or valued), and large employers (e.g. dysfunctional teams and lack of team-based competencies, recruitment issues, costly patterns of prescribing or diagnostic test ordering, lack of capability for population health, lack of preparedness of new graduates for the business of healthcare, etc.). One quickly realizes that these issues are interrelated and the solutions must be born from partnership and shared problem-solving between health professions educators, employers and the individuals and communities we serve. Health professions education and care delivery need major reform, and strengthening the connection between education and practice is a pragmatic way forward and strategy 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?

I have participated with and led numerous accreditation activities over the years, both in PA education and beyond. In my current job, I oversee 50+ programs across 18+ healthcare fields with various accreditation models. There is no doubt the self-study and accreditation processes led by ARC-PA have helped sustain quality in PA education and reassured stakeholders about the rigor and quality of PA training. Let’s acknowledge the efforts of many individuals, within and outside the PA profession, for this work. As I compare regional and other professions’ accreditation models to ours, however, I observe PA accreditation as excessively process-oriented and overly prescribed within curricular standards. Our model stewards a baseline level of quality through compliance with the standards, but it fails by hampering creativity among programs that could achieve desirable outcomes with different organizational structures, more innovative curricula, and greater attention to regional health outcomes that matter to populations served by its graduates. Outcome-based (e.g. competency- or entrustment-based) accreditation can ensure accountability and quality but empower programs to be more innovative, creative, and effective in preparing graduates for the complexity and regionally-different realities of clinical practice. ARC-PA benefited from non-PA members as the profession was coming to fruition, but this legacy should be replaced by a PA-led commission that instead regularly collaborates with others across health professions and the public. PA faculty already have the power to drive more progressive, outcomes-based education and, through PAEA’s advocacy, we can build support and urgency for accreditation to evolve to keep up.