Case Studies on Integrating PAEA’s Advocacy Curriculum
As PA graduates are increasingly called upon to fill leadership roles both in and beyond the clinical setting, many programs have sought to expand leadership and advocacy training for their students to PA graduates have the skills needed to meet the opportunity of becoming healthcare advocates. Within a compressed curriculum and with many competing demands on faculty time, however, it is often a struggle for programs to develop new content to develop effective advocates for the profession.
PAEA’s Government Relations team sought to meet this member need by developing a comprehensive set of resources that can be easily integrated into any program seeking to expand leadership and advocacy instruction for students. Released earlier this year, PAEA’s Advocacy Curriculum is designed to be customizable to the unique needs of programs. The curriculum includes five components: short and long-form lecture recordings, interactive classroom activities, a grassroots advocacy best practice video, modules, and a comprehensive Grassroots Advocacy Resource Guide. The variety in format and length of these resources allows programs to support educational experiences ranging from a 30-minute lecture to a multi-day, immersive advocacy activity that best fit with their learning objectives for students while simultaneously supporting the long-term interests of patients and the profession.
Following the release of the resource, PAEA’s Government Relations Steering Committee has worked to learn more about how programs are adapting the Advocacy Curriculum on the ground and their experiences thus far. These discussions contributed to a session at the 2023 PAEA Education Forum entitled, “Cultivating Future Leaders: How to Leverage PAEA’s Advocacy Curriculum,” which highlighted several of the following case studies.
Lecture and Breakout Activities
One PA program integrates the Advocacy Curriculum by combining traditional coursework with practical breakout activities. In this program, students start with pre-work that involves reading textbooks discussing the profession and advocacy procedures, along with completing the PA Education Policy and Advocacy Comprehensive lecture. Once in class, students engage in a breakout activity, which allows them to delve deeper into the subject matter. To reinforce their learning, students then work in groups to develop advocacy communications, refining their ability to collaborate and critically analyze policy issues.
Modules and Experiential Advocacy
Another program incorporates the Advocacy Curriculum within the context of their discussion of PA laws and regulations. Students first engage with pre-work, which includes the PAEA Education Policy and Advocacy Essentials lecture. They then delve into the Advocacy for Beginners, Advanced Advocacy, and Effective Communication modules, enhancing their advocacy skills. An innovative feature of this program is the involvement of a state senator who visits the class, providing students with a practical application of their advocacy knowledge. As a reflective exercise, students develop next steps for advocacy in their state, fostering a more comprehensive understanding of the advocacy process.
Pre-Work and Interactive Engagement
A final member program integrates the Advocacy Curriculum through a health policy and health systems lens, emphasizing in-class application and interaction. Students complete the Advocacy Curriculum modules as pre-work, providing them with foundational knowledge about advocacy best practices. In the classroom, role-playing activities are used, and students are divided into different roles: PA advocate, member of Congress, and observer. This approach ensures that students rotate through various positions, gaining a multifaceted perspective on advocacy. To measure their progress and confidence in advocacy, pre- and post-surveys are administered.
PAEA’s Government Relations team would like to thank Christy Eskes, DHSc, MPA, PA-C, Patricia Campbell, MPAS, MPH, PA-C, Jeremy Kersey, MPAS, PA-C, and Melissa Bowlby, MSBS, PA-C for their work in supporting adoption of the Advocacy Curriculum by PA programs nationwide. Members with questions about the resource are invited to contact Tyler Smith at tsmith@PAEAonline.org.