Late last year, we published the first article in a new series highlighting recently accredited PA programs across the country. For the second installment, Allan Bedashi, DHSc, MSHPE, MPAS, PA-C, director of the PA Studies Program at California Baptist University (CBU), is here to tell us all about their program, lessons they’ve learned, and goals on the horizon. Enjoy!
Tell me a little bit about how this program came about.
With the expansion of health care access through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, health care provider shortages throughout California, especially in the “Inland Empire,” and the United States continue to increase.
California now has over 39 million residents, and many areas remain medically underserved — including Riverside County, where CBU is located. CBU strives to recognize community needs and attempts to meet those needs with the development of new programs. CBU’s MSPAS program will help to remediate the health care provider shortage by educating and training excellent PAs.
What do you think makes your program unique?
CBU’s PA program incorporates the University’s “Core-4” outcomes by producing students that are academically prepared, biblically rooted, globally minded, and equipped to serve. We put a heavy emphasis on outreach to the community and to underserved populations, starting from the first semester. Additionally, we offer a required rotation in urgent care, a setting that has grown dramatically in southern California in response to the need for greater medical services for those who are unable to easily access their medical care. Urgent care has also been a large-scale employer for PAs across the nation.
What has been the biggest challenge your program has had to overcome so far, and how did you handle it?
The sheer magnitude of work cannot be realized until you are in the middle of it. As a new program, the establishment of clinical sites and recruitment of supporting faculty were major hurdles to overcome, in addition to building infrastructure to house our program. Working as a team in a new capacity required managerial expertise, emotional intelligence, and empathy towards other faculty roles.
Succeeding in a team-teaching environment required a huge amount of leadership, coordination, communication, and patience from all parties. One of largest hurdles with faculty that still practice clinically is the lack of time together to sort out team goals, and we continue to navigate nuances as we learn. Clear organization and prioritizing individual goals (versus team goals) has been helpful. Additionally, navigating the exponentially larger number of applications for the 2017-18 cycle has required careful contemplation of our admissions process, along with ongoing dedication from our entire PA team.
Do you do any team-building activities with your cohorts?
At CBU, we place a heavy emphasis on interprofessional education (IPE) from the very first weeks of the semester, engaging both faculty and students. For instance, this fall we had an IPE event on campus, drawing upon the expertise of other graduate students in speech language pathology, nursing, and public health. Later that semester, we had an off-campus IPE event, conferring and discussing cases with graduate students from the Keck School of Pharmacy, Riverside Community College School of Nursing, and the University of California-Riverside School of Medicine.
We hear a lot about networking and collaboration in the PA world. How have you been able to collaborate with other programs or community members?
As a new PA program, we have been grateful for the hospitality of and professional collaboration with Marshall Ketchum University. They kindly invited us for lunch and a tour of their campus, and we reciprocated this winter. We have really appreciated their insights! We also have collaborated with the Western University of Health Science and the Loma Linda University PA programs. Additionally, numerous networking opportunities with other PA faculty through Pando™ workshops and other collaborative events have been helpful and enjoyable.
If you could give developing programs one piece of advice, what would it be?
Recognizing that most PA faculty come from clinical roles, all new faculty need to approach their positions with an open mind and humility. New faculty must have a sense of blind faith in those who have been there before, even if they don’t fully understand the methodology. Just as our own students are learning, we must also continue to be lifelong learners. Faculty members who are new to this process must apply their gifts in this new arena and be open to guidance. Perseverance is critical.