2019 PAEA Education Forum

Board Candidate: Director at Large

Candidate Statement

Shani Fleming,

I cannot express enough gratitude for the ten years I have volunteered within the Physician Assistant Education Association. Serving in almost every role within the Diversity and Inclusion Commission (Council/Committee) allowed me to pursue my life’s mission while simultaneously advancing the organization. The Physician Assistant Education Association has been instrumental in my longevity in PA education, providing invaluable professional development and networking opportunities. I am ready to transition and advance into the next tier of leadership and offer my expertise as a PA educator to serve on the PAEA Board of Directors as Director at Large.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership are three interwoven necessities for growth within any profession. My years leading on Diversity and Inclusion within PAEA provided me the opportunity to develop, implement, evaluate, and manage comprehensive and focused initiatives. We coordinated outreach and recruitment events at the local and national level, reaching thousands of underrepresented minority high school and college students, introducing them to the health profession career. Our diversity committee was instrumental in advocating for a diversity standard, curating cultural competence resources, and providing ongoing professional development at the annual forums. We also created a “safe space” for minority faculty to develop as leaders and voice any challenges they may experience. Our commission has served as a model within the volunteer structure and provided a great foundation to build and lead on diversity and inclusion moving forward.

The PA profession must continue to prioritize scholarship and technological innovation in PA education. We must prioritize professional development which focuses on curricular maps, course and instructional objectives, learning outcomes, and assessments which align with PA program milestones, competencies, and graduate outcomes. I have served as course coordinator for PA programs final capstone projects, promoting evidence-based medicine, research methodology, and student and faculty publishing. As a profession, we need courage to explore innovative and groundbreaking educational techniques and model appropriate educational theory.

Overall, I believe that I bring a diverse portfolio to the board, and I look forward to serving the organization as Director at Large.

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PAEA Forum Motif


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

What drives individuals to be high-performers can vary from one person to the next and is often based on intrinsic motivators and values. What motivates me to become a high-performing Board member is the fact that the strategic plan and mission of PAEA closely align with my values, purpose, and vision. When synergy exists between your personal goals and the goals of the organization, it creates a highly efficient and productive work environment. As with most organizations, term limits create an environment with the ongoing introduction of new members to the team. I would encourage creating a streamlined and effective orientation process so that all members may have a fundamental knowledge of the practices, policies, and core values of the organization. We must prioritize diversity and inclusion. The diversity of thought, perspective, and experience will create a culture that enhances the performance of all Board members. Finally, there are a couple of key attributes of high-performing leaders which can undoubtedly improve the productivity of the PAEA board. If a Board member prioritizes relationship building and community, has honest and transparent values, uses tools such as objectives and key results (OKR) aligning and engaging around measurable goals and finally, using effective communication throughout the organization, these attributes should certainly produce high-performance on the team. I possess all of the qualities mentioned, and I look forward to continuing to lead within PAEA.

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?

The biggest opportunity for PAEA is to continue to be BOLD and demonstrate leadership. There are consistent trends, changes, and challenges within the health care and higher education system in which we can offer innovative solutions. Technology in health care, including telehealth, electronic medical records, and remote monitoring present ripe opportunities for curriculum enhancements and augmented clinical experiences. PAEA can lead in the area of professional development to offer the PA program thought leaders and researchers’ tools to address these technological trends with our students. We also see advances in technology in our classroom setting as we move to more online training and increased reliance on learning management systems, shifts in students using smartphones versus computers and evaluation and tracking of student performances electronically. Health care disparities, health inequity, and social determinants of health continue to plague a disproportionate segment of our population and PAEA can continue to be a leader within health education associations promoting diversity and inclusion. PAEA should continue to assist PA programs with resources and successful strategies to help create inclusive and welcoming environments for diverse students and faculty.
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?

First, we should celebrate the tremendous work that PAEA undertook to create an amazing outcomes-based, competency document for new graduates and the ongoing relationship and capacity building with critical stakeholders, including the ARC-PA. We should evaluate the process, get input from members, and look to our colleagues who have successfully shifted to more outcomes-based approaches, to help guide our next steps in advancing this work. There is a tremendous amount of research regarding outcomes-based approaches in medicine, which can help PAEA make data-driven decisions. We have to continue with effective communication and outreach strategies to increase buy-in of members, accreditors, and institutional leadership. An educational paradigm shift requires effective change management to include modification of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. PAEA can assist programs by developing assessment tools to measure competence, provide curricular modules to aid with instruction and guidance for program leaders, leading the change in curriculum design. We must also remain mindful of faculty burnout, overload, and rising expectations. The Flexner Report and sage on the stage mindset has permeated many of our PA programs, and PAEA can continue to offer resources and alternatives to the longstanding culture of medicine. Outcomes-based approaches generally recommend beginning with the end in mind. PAEA can approach this topic with the same mindset. The goal of our medical education is to meet the needs of the society we serve and we should allow this goal to direct our next steps moving forward.