Celebrating 50 Years: Anthony (Tony) Miller Past President Snapshot
By: Anthony A. Miller, MEd, PA-C (Emeritus)
Division of Physician Assistant Studies
For this wonderful milestone, we were asked to reflect on our time as presidents. For me, that was 1992-1993 (a long time ago), and I honestly don’t recall much that would be interesting to the hundreds of PA educators who are now part of our unique community. So instead, I will tell you about three “projects” that I had the fortune to be involved in.
First, while on the board, I had the pleasure to be associated with Albert (Bert) Simon and Cindy Lord. Cindy was a student representative on the board of directors. The three of us conceived the Jeopardy-style medical trivia competition as a way to increase student participation at the national PA conference. We sought and gained approvals for the first challenge bowl to be held in 1991 at the AAPA’s 19th Annual Conference in San Francisco. A team of maintenance workers at Saint Francis College (now University) where Bert Simon was the director, fashioned the first set up buzzers. I am so proud that this has grown to one of the premier events at the conference, now attracting hundreds of students.
My second adventure in PA education was chairing the “degree task force.” For many years in the early history of the PA profession, one could earn PA credentials by completing an educational program that awarded an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree; and some PAs earned a certificate of completion. At some point, there was a growing opinion that our profession should standardize our entry-level credentials. In 1998, I was asked to chair a task force to examine this issue and make recommendations to the membership. Over two years, the task force did research and met periodically. Not surprisingly, some of the discussion was quite spirited. At the 2000 Education Forum held in Crystal City, VA we made our recommendations and they were adopted by the membership. It was not unanimous and some members showed their displeasure by wearing black armbands for the rest of the conference even though awarding a master’s degree was not mandatory. Many years later, all PA programs award the master’s degree and it has been deemed an entry-level credential. I am so grateful for the hard work of the task force members on this challenging issue and most grateful to my friend, Ron Garcia, who provided guidance to me and helped craft the final language for the recommendations.
My final highlight was one that spanned several years and resulted in just as many cherished friendships. In the 1990s, there was an increasing number of developing PA programs and there was a recognition that new program directors needed a crash course in the curriculum, budgeting, assessment, personnel management, and other director duties. We were fortunate to secure a contract from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) that provided funding to have our first Leadership Training Institute at St. Francis College in Loretto, PA in 1994. This became an annual event for several years and provided a leadership pipeline for PA education and the PA profession. Eventually, there was recognition that we needed to provide education and training for all levels leading to the formation of the Faculty Development Institute. A core group of educators began to offer Basic Faculty Skills workshops in conjunction with the annual Education Forum. Later, workshops specific to clinical coordinators and other program roles were offered. I had the great fortune of working with many wonderful colleagues including, Matt Baker, Dennis Blessing, Jim Cawley, Anita Glicken, Bert Simon, and many more who I now call lifelong friends. Facilitating the LTI and Basic Skills workshops has been one of the highlights of my career.