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Celebrating the Inaugural Cohort of the Physician Assistant Leadership and Learning Academy

By Karen Gordes, PhD, PT, DScMay 13, 2020

The first cohort of PALLA Fellows has officially graduated.

The Physician Assistant Leadership and Learning Academy (PALLA) is a state-wide initiative led by the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) to build PA faculty capacity to educate the next generation of PA students and advance PA education, research, and policy in Maryland. PALLA offers a 10-month fellowship aimed at resourcing PA clinicians with the skills necessary to meet the demands of the role of PA professoriate. The 2019–2020 inaugural cohort of PALLA Fellows includes Dave Bunnell, MSHS, PA-C; Matt Kearney, MS, MPAS, PA-C; Jeffrey Russell, MMS, PA-C; and Kyle Schiller, MS, PA-C.

One phase of the PALLA Fellowship is specifically dedicated to developing fellows to be skilled educators. Through the fellowship, PALLA Fellows engage in a series of educational sessions held both in-person and virtually. Educational topic areas presented include: adult learning theories, the construction of instructional objectives, learning domains, backward design, and evidence-based instructional strategies and assessments within health professions education. Fellows also have access to a robust online resource center and are provided peer mentoring via the PALLA executive team.

This first cohort of PALLA Fellows was charged with generating a longitudinal telehealth curriculum for incorporation into existing Maryland PA programs. The project was seen as a vital contribution to build a PA workforce capable of expanding health care access to the underserved regions in the state. The telehealth curriculum also ensures that Maryland PA programs are prepared to meet accreditation standards to provide a strong foundation in information technology and expertise consistent with the changing nature of clinical practice.

The current COVID-19 pandemic certainly highlights the timeliness of the fellows curricular project as well as the crucial need for PA programs to have access to a prepared curriculum on telehealth that has been modeled specifically for PAs.

The fellows’ telehealth curriculum includes instructional objectives, instructional materials, and instructional formative/summative assessments, as well as simulation experiences for four unique telehealth educational units. The designed telehealth educational units are skillfully aligned to PA course learning outcomes in Maryland and reflect a developmental progression towards graduate competency.

The fellows celebrated the completion of the PALLA Fellowship on May 7 by presenting their culminating telehealth curricular project to stakeholders from Maryland’s academic institutions. The telehealth curriculum product is licensed via Creative Commons and is available for implementation in Maryland PA programs as well as for use by academic institutions outside of the state.

For anyone interested in obtaining access to the telehealth curriculum, please request a copy of the curriculum directly from the UMB PALLA website.

Shani Fleming, MS, MPH, PA-C, senior lecturer at the UMB/AACC Collaborative PA Program contributed to this article.

Karen Gordes, PhD, PT, DSc

Dr. Gordes is the chief learning director for PALLA and a senior lecturer in the Graduate School at University of Maryland, Baltimore. In her role, she collaborates with strategic partners to develop programs and initiatives for faculty development in the area of academic leadership across health profession education programs.