2022 PAEA Board Candidates

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President Elect Candidate

Linda Sekhon

Linda J. Sekhon, DHSc, PA-C

High Point University

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Describe the key strengths you bring to the position of president elect of PAEA and how you will help to advance PAEA’s mission of “Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in PA Education.” 

It is a great honor to declare my candidacy for PAEA President Elect.   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 and Program Director 101 facilitator, I continued to see this impact on those entering PA education and the profession.

As the prior Founding Program Director of the MPAS Program and now Founding Chair of Medical Sciences 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.

PAEA is a values-based organization. Please describe your leadership philosophy and provide an example of how, as a leader, you “live your values.”

To be successful, our leadership must not only demonstrate collegiality but also summon a powerful resolve. This must 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.

PAEA is committed to modeling and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in PA education. What are some of the key issues facing PA programs in this space and what can PAEA do to address them?

I am most proud of our organizational effort and commitment toward modeling and advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in PA education.

At the 2020 Education Forum we held town halls and virtual retreats and  gained a tremendous amount of insight from participants.  We walked away from the forum with a renewed sense of direction having  recognized the critical importance DEIJ is to PA educators and students across the country.   I recently conducted several small focus groups with PA students who were at various stages of their education cycle.  I  was encouraged by their focus on DEIJ as they prepare to become PA providers.

Treasurer Candidate

Jacqueline S. Barnett, DHSc, MSHS, PA-C

Duke University

Discuss your experience as it relates to strategic planning from a financial perspective.

I have significant experience with strategic planning from a financial perspective.  I served as treasurer of the District of Columbia (DC) Academy of Physician Assistants for 13 years, and also chaired the finance committee as a part of this role.  As treasurer, I led the strategic planning efforts aimed to increase our revenue, membership, student involvement, and engagement with PA Programs in Washington DC.  We were successful with achieving each of these efforts.  One of the biggest successes was holding the DCAPA’s first-ever Cherry Blossom themed CME conference.  This conference increased our membership, revenue, and visibility and allowed us to develop relationships with various stakeholders.  We were able to meet our return on investment goals for financial success as well as to further the mission of the DCAPA.

I also served on PAEA’s Finance Council for five years and was involved in many of the discussions related to strategic planning and the organization’s finances.  Two of the most significant strategic initiatives that I can recall included conversations regarding the impact of moving PAEA offices from Virginia to Washington DC and investing in technology to allow PAEA to expand its educational offerings.  So much of the conversation and questions that we posed to the leadership regarding these “big ticketed” initiatives examined the potential financial impact on the organization, measures of success, value proposition to the members, relevancy to the organization, competitive edge, and the impact of not moving forward with these initiatives.

As the program director at Duke, I am responsible for the fiscal management of the program and thus am regularly involved in strategic planning efforts from a financial perspective.  Generally, our strategic planning focuses on the organization’s mission and vision, along with an understanding of the current environment and trends in PA education and across health professions.

I have learned that any strategic planning process should include an in-depth analysis of the overall organization (for example a SWOT analysis).  This would allow for intentional “leaning in” through an understanding of organizational structures, systems, priorities, etc., in efforts to address weakness and to build on its strengths.  Financial planning and oversight are critical to implementing the strategic plan. It entails budgeting, cash flow analysis, establishing priorities and performance metrics in order to promote organizational growth and success.

How will you help to advance PAEA’s mission of “Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in PA Education?”

I can help advance PAEA’s mission in several ways.  I will participate in and promote the BOD and the organization’s process of systematically scanning the environment to understand the present, while also thinking of the future.  This includes engaging in mid-range and long-term futurist thinking as it relates to education, medicine, health care and technology to help foster innovative thinking.  Ten years ago, I engaged in a futuristic collaborative project across professions to think about primary care in 2025.  This experience resonated with me and demonstrated how leaders should engage in generative thinking as a way to further organization excellence and innovation.  Many of the recommendations, which sounded so far-fetched back then, such as using avatars to provide patient education and telehealth to expand health care access, have come to pass.  I would also help PAEA with building and growing its relationships with policy makers, thought leaders, philanthropy organizations, and businesses across many fields to facilitate being at the cutting edge of innovation.

I would support PAEA with implementing mechanisms for our members to share ideas, needs, and concerns so we can develop products and services to meet their needs.  We can also invest in initiatives to educate our members in areas outside of their own expertise to promote professional development, innovation and excellence.  Mostly, as treasurer, I would be a strong advocate for PAEA to continue with the intentional and purposeful alignment of its finances to the organization’s mission and strategic plan. 

PAEA is a values-based organization, please describe how you, as a leader, “live your values.” 

Integrity -As a leader I believe in the value of integrity. This means being honest and transparent with my team and to those on whose behalf we are working. I am accountable for my actions and promote this among my team. I am open and honest with expressing my thoughts and feelings but operate by empowering others and respecting their feelings and autonomy.

Teamwork – I value teamwork. This means I believe in collaboration and that the process of a team is as important as the outcome of a team. As a leader, I invest in others on the team and let them know that I want them to achieve both their personal and professional goals as well as team goals.

Stewardship – I value stewardship. Where and how organizations invest their resources demonstrates what they value.  Therefore, I would always advocate that resource allocations must align with the mission, values, and strategic priorities of the organization. I like to say that before I eat something it has got to be calorie worthy and before I spend money on behalf of the organization, it has to be mission worthy.

Excellence – I place a high value on excellence. I encourage my team to focus on quality and to go beyond the expectations of others.  At the end of the day, our work potentially changes lives and we should always do our best for each other and for those who have put their trust in us.

Director at Large Candidate

Virginia Valentin

Virginia L. Valentin, DrPH, PA-C

University of Utah

Please describe the unique perspective or point-of-view you bring to the position of director at large of PAEA:

It would be an honor to serve on the PAEA board. Due to the pandemic, our health care and educational systems are under significant strain and enter a new era of significant change. I look forward to the opportunity to be a part of the PAEA board to identify possibilities in this time of struggle. The unique perspectives that I bring to the Director at Large position stem from my background as a nurse, PA, educator, and researcher.

From working as a nursing assistant with elderly patients at a local nursing home at age 16, to caring for inpatient oncology patients at their most vulnerable as a nurse, my early patient experiences taught me more about myself and health care than I ever taught my patients. Seeing the limitations of medicine first-hand made me question and want to be part of developing better care. As a research nurse in oncology my future goals of becoming a PA, educator, and researcher were formed.

Leadership development opportunities arose from working as a new graduate PA in Kentucky where PA scope of practice laws were restrictive. I took the opportunity to be active in PA state legislation and eventually served as Kentucky state PA president. I began to broaden my education in our health care system, both in its successes and limitations. These experiences taught me that PAs were part of the solution to the increasing patient access to health care services.

Following my passion for treating patients in oncology, I began working as a PA in bone marrow transplant. The time I spent reading, researching and following protocols sparking my desire to seek formal research education. I pursued and completed my doctorate degree while I worked as a full time PA faculty member. This training in public health expanded my understanding of social determinants of health and solidified my belief on the impact PAs can have on patient care. My research focuses on how PAs contribute to health care access and health outcomes.

Becoming a PA educator fulfilled a personal long-term goal and provides me the opportunity to make the largest impact I can through teaching the future leaders of our profession. My life experiences to date have brought me unique perspectives and tools to help the PAEA BOD and profession make needed policy change, further engage and prioritize PA research, and teach and mentor our future PAs.

How will you help to advance PAEA’s mission of “Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in PA Education?”

PAEA’s mission of leadership, innovation and excellence in PA education focuses on the key strategies of diversity and inclusion, leadership, faculty development and research. As part of the BOD, I would endeavor to advance these key strategies as they evolve in this new climate. My past work with students, community, and research demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Our profession is behind in developing a diverse workforce and I believe this is a critical component to our future success.

My commitment to leadership is seen through my formal and informal engagement. I believe the future of the PA profession rests on the development of PA leaders. Numerous times I have attended an important meeting to be the only PA at the table. I believe it is key to have PAs in leadership roles so that our voices are heard.

I am passionate about faculty development and my commitment to this can be seen through my mentoring work. I currently formally mentor several faculty individually and I serve as a PAEA Basic Skills instructor where I have taught hundreds of new PA faculty.

As an inaugural AAPA-PAEA Research Fellow and member of the PAEA Research MAC, I am passionate about research and committed to furthering PAEA’s research agenda. While not all faculty or PAs need to be researchers, I think our profession needs to develop our own body of research so we do not look at physicians and nurses to inform us about our education and workforce questions.

PAEA is a values-based organization. Please describe how you, as a leader, “live your values.”

I have had the opportunity to be in leadership roles at the institutional, state, and national levels. These positions have provided the opportunity to grow as a leader and strive to live my values which include organization, authenticity and stability.

Anyone who knows me knows that I value organization. From developing and implementing a new master’s project to leading a 5-year HRSA grant, I use organization to lead and accomplish my work. As a leader, organization allows me to be prepared for whatever task lies ahead and I endeavor to role model these skills to those I mentor.

It is important to me to be an authentic leader who is naturally optimistic and values the individual and collective talent and input of my team.  In my leadership roles, I have had to make difficult decisions and advocate for students and faculty at various levels. I believe the PA profession is a community and our long-term relationships are critical to success. This belief requires me to work to build relationships and be transparent and honest in my decision-making.

Lastly, I value stability. This obviously is a struggle working in PA education and particularly now as we live through a pandemic. Yet, this desire for stability guides me as I try to provide steadiness to both my students and faculty. As a leader, I want to use my skills to support our diverse students and faculty to take the opportunity of this time of struggle to reframe our profession for the better.