Celebrating 50 Years: William C. Kohlhepp Past President Snapshot

William C. Kohlhepp, DHSc, PA-C served as PAEA President in 2017. He offers his reflections from that time, highlighting the importance of cross-organizational collaboration and the significant role PAEA plays in shaping federal policy to advance PA education and the mission of the PA workforce.

William "Bill" Kohlhepp speaks on a panel at the 2017 PAEA Education Forum. He is seated in a brown wingback chair beside three other people on the panel, also in wingback chairs.
William “Bill” Kohlhepp speaks on a panel at the 2017 PAEA Education Forum

What was happening in PA education during your year as president?

I was PAEA President in 2017. It was a special year as it was the 50th Anniversary of the graduation of the first class at Duke University. During the PAEA Education Forum, we celebrated that milestone with our membership.  It was also a year of significant conversations in the PA profession about our future as the AAPA House of Delegates considered a proposal for Optimal Team Practice (OTP).

What were the highlights of your presidency?

I had two significant opportunities during my presidency to advocate for priorities of PA education. Joining with CEO Timi Agar-Barwick, I met with Health Resources and Services Administrator Dr. George Sigouas to discuss Title VII grant programs. I also had the honor of testifying before a Congressional subcommittee on behalf of PAEA. I testified in person before the United States House of Representatives House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. My testimony was entitled “CODE RED–CRITICAL: Clinical Education Site Shortage Threatens PA Health Workforce.”

Another focus of my presidency was to respond on behalf of PAEA to AAPA’s OTP proposal. I testified before the AAPA House of Delegates on OTP and then brokered changes to some of the language in the proposal that made it more acceptable to the PA education community. OTP also took center stage at that year’s PAEA Education Forum where we hosted a Four Organization panel discussion about Optimal Team Practice. A key focus of our organization’s presentation was to clearly outline what we saw as the connections between competency-based, outcome-focused education and clinical practice in an OTP environment.

Looking back on your PAEA presidency, what are you most proud of?

I certainly appreciated the opportunity to be one of a few PAEA Presidents to have testified before Congress. But I am most proud of being able to be a key driver during my Presidency for two initiatives that I believe will have long-lasting impact. Building on the End of Rotation exams, conversations about End of Curriculum exam started to occur during my year as PAEA President. But, most important to me was to again be part of the continued conversations around the Competencies for the PA Profession. Having been part of the first draft (2005) and the subsequent revision (2012), I was pleased to be involved as President in conversations that led to the process for the most recent revision. And I was later honored (2020) to participate in the creation of that document.

Having had the opportunity to serve as PAEA President was truly one of the highlights of my 40+ year career as a PA.