Meetings

First PAEA Regional Meeting a Resounding Success

By Steven LaneAugust 7, 2019

Attendees of the inaugural Leadership Lab held at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Tracy Mextorf/PAEA

Both presenters and attendees agree that PAEA’s initial “Leadership Lab” met all of its goals and then some.

More than 30 faculty from around the country attended the Leadership Lab held this past weekend in Atlanta. It was a pilot for the concept of holding a series of smaller, regional meetings to supplement the annual Education Forum and increase the number of opportunities for PA faculty to present their work. The meeting was held at the Emory University School of Medicine – a fitting locale, as PAEA President Jon Bowser noted in his welcoming remarks: “Emory nurtured two of our profession’s most important early leaders – Dr. Eugene Stead and Dr. Harvey Estes.”

Leadership Matters

As its name suggests, the meeting was focused on the central topic of leadership, seen from a variety of perspectives and aimed at faculty at all levels. “Leadership,” as PAEA Chief of Educational Development Karen Hills put it, “is everyone’s business.” Day one was a structured workshop based on The Leadership Challenge®, the framework selected by the Leadership MAC and approved by the PAEA Board of Directors. Facilitators Hills, Kendall Mealy, and Tom Pearce led the group through discussions and exercises around the framework’s five core practices and asked attendees to reflect on experiences in their own lives and careers that connected to these practices. The group also discussed the importance of being intentional about determining the core values of a team, as a clear team vision helps everyone pull in the same direction and empowers people to take ownership of their own and the team’s work.

Attendees participate in a leadership skills
Attendees participate in a leadership skills activity. Photo: Tracy Mextorf/PAEA

Beyond this initial groundwork, the rest of the conference was designed to provide opportunities for participants to share lessons and experiences. In a series of “Express Talks on Leadership,” speakers Jeremy Amayo, Nicole Burwell, Shalon Buchs, and Laura Gerstner gave TED talk-style presentations on “owning students’ ownership of their learning,” seeking formal leadership training in an institution, leading change in your institution, and an experience with the Harvard-Macy fellowship. A second express talks session saw Kara Caruthers, Daytheon Sturges, and Larry Collins focusing on student issues: faculty serving as role models, relationships between students and professors, and how to encourage students.

A final series of sessions allowed for group discussions and questions around such topics as leading and innovating in the clinical education space and balancing between institutional responsibilities and faculty development, facilitated by senior PAEA staff and the chairs of PAEA’s mission advancement commissions (MACs): Kevin Lohenry, Leadership MAC; Tony Brenneman, Faculty Development MAC; Shani Fleming, Diversity and Inclusion MAC; and Rick Dehn, Research MAC.

While the official meeting evaluation will provide more substantive data, attendees’ initial impressions seem favorable. Erin Owens, a new educator at a developing program in the Atlanta area, heard about the Leadership Lab while attending the Faculty 101 workshop and “wanted to take the next step … I wanted a structure to build my own leadership theories,” she said. “Prioritizing our values is going to be how you can appeal to people and keep the momentum of the team going.”

A full report on the Leadership Lab will soon be available on the PAEA Digital Learning Hub (create your account now if you haven’t already) so that all can benefit from the presentations and discussions. PAEA will be evaluating the regional meeting model based on this pilot and assessing the value of holding additional similar meetings.

Steven Lane

Steven is the senior director of strategic communications for PAEA. He has worked with the PA profession for much of his career and in 2016 he joined the PAEA staff for the third time.