2019 PAEA Education Forum

Board Candidate: Director at Large

Candidate Statement

Robert Hadley,
PhD, PA-C

I respectfully declare my candidacy to represent our profession as a Director at Large on the PAEA Board. I believe I would bring a unique perspective to the Board and become a valuable member of the team that helps direct the future of PA education.

It has been my honor to have been involved in PAEA leadership positions over the years, on multiple committees, councils and commissions for both PAEA and AAPA. I am a current member of the Faculty Development Mission Advancement Commission (FD-MAC) through 2019. In all these roles, I have greatly enjoyed working with colleagues assessing and addressing issues facing PA education. I wish to continue my service to the PA education profession as a Director at Large on the PAEA Board.

Having been a PA and a PA educator for 22 years, I have acquired valuable experience and perspectives that will be helpful for my colleagues through service on the PAEA Board. I have filled multiple roles in three PA programs. I have seen first-hand the dedication of faculty to their students, the issues they face, and would like to help provide support to them via service on the Board.

Through my experiences with the Student Writing Contest, the Committee for Didactic Education, and the FD-MAC, it has become clear to me that our students are our greatest untapped resource for PA education. Lack of qualified faculty is a worsening crisis with no clear formal pathway for transitioning students into education. I can envision a pathway for selected PA students to consider an academic career right out of school, rather than travel the usual path of practicing, precepting, and eventually getting involved in PA education. The Future Educator Fellowship program is one great start that could be expanded upon for development of future faculty.

I think my strengths are my ability to think strategically and consider the “big issues” that are faced by our profession, and my breadth of experience. One contribution to my somewhat different perspective on academics is the fact that I came from an academic background first (bench research and medical student education), and then had a mid-career change when I joined the PA profession. This background helps me to think outside the usual boxes, and be open to new ideas.

I would sincerely appreciate the opportunity to serve PA education in the role of Director at Large on the PAEA Board.

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Q&A

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

Vision, perspective, experience, team attitude, and flexibility are essential attributes for Board service.

I have never seen an issue for which I could not see (and often argue) two or more sides. The process of examining different perspectives is essential in the function of any body that sets policy relating to the mission of an entire profession. I believe I have a strong ability to take a broad view of issues from an objective perspective.

My background is a bit different from most PA educators’. I have a long and broad record of experience in multiple academic and medical education settings (as well as in volunteer leadership). The perspective I’ve gained has made it clear to me that beyond basic principles, there are many “correct” ways to get things done. The key is to work with the rest of the team in one of those “correct” approaches to achieve an appropriate outcome. The other key is to always keep in mind what the end product should be. Process is far less important than outcome.

Having been in academics before becoming a PA has given me a breadth of experience that sometimes causes me to see things in a new light. This allows me to consider new ideas, and look at old ideas critically. I truly believe that the most important attributes I have to offer the PAEA Board are my broad experience, my unique perspective, and my desire to help advance the PA profession, and the profession of training PAs.
 

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?

Threat and opportunity are two sides of the same coin.

A threat/opportunity we have all considered is the recent adoption by the AAPA HOD of “Optimal Team Practice,” or OTP. Embedded among the excellent concepts in OTP, the call for removal of supervision requirements (i.e. independent practice) is incompatible with models of PA training. We want new graduates to practice at the top of their licenses and not be hobbled with excessive regulation, but a 27-month curriculum will never prepare PAs to practice independently. This is an opportunity for PAEA to be very clear on competencies of new graduates, and work with employers and other PA organizations to help define what practices are entrustable in new graduates. Conceivably, future models of education may arise that can produce an independent practitioner in an abbreviated curriculum; the PA education model should be the foundation of any such effort.

The changing landscape of PA education requires multiple additional adaptive changes: As we move toward outcomes-based medical education (OBME), PAEA can be intimately involved with other organizations in driving the development of appropriate standards. Expansion of programs is a challenge; PAEA has the opportunity to help new programs excel, particularly in an environment of changing standards. Didactic faculty needs continue to increase, and new faculty need PAEA resources (e.g. guidance in faculty roles and responsibilities). The tight availability of clinical year sites presents opportunities to develop and evaluate potential new models of clinical training, and for PAEA to foster inter-program cooperation.
 

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?

OBME may be the only practical way to incorporate the ever-growing information load into a workable curriculum. The key is to develop ways to implement OBME in a way that uses faculty resources frugally, yet maintains quality. To accomplish this, practical models and tools need to be developed, and disseminated to PA faculty. Implementation of those tools then needs to be supported. The MACs (Mission Advancement Commissions), particularly the Faculty Development MAC (FD-MAC), are well-positioned to develop and share these tools. Initially, faculty need to understand more about OBME. Over the past two years, the MACs have been charged with developing tools and concepts related to OBME. For example, the FD-MAC has presented ideas of OBME at the 2018 Forum, and has developed an informative paper on OBME for publication. As faculty come to understand the role of OBME, they should become receptive to PAEA resources developed for implementation and measurements of OBME.

A major issue for adopting OBME is clearly defining outcomes, and developing tools to measure those outcomes, beyond OSCEs and exams. Programs will develop formative and summative measurement tools, especially if driven by accreditation standards. However, programs need support and resources. In addition to working with ARC-PA on accreditation, the Board should leverage the MACs by providing clear goals and assignments for them. The MACs can collate, optimize and share these tools, and develop additional ones. The new Digital Learning Hub will provide a superb central location for program sharing and for a toolbox repository.