Celebrating a Decade of Student Health Policy Fellows at PAEA

This year’s PAEA Student Health Policy Fellowship, hosted from September 11-13, marked the Association’s 10th year of cultivating future leaders and advocates for PA education, patients, and the profession. Over the course of three days, the PAEA Government Relations team and 20 PA students from around the country gathered virtually to network, champion PA education policy priorities, and learn about advocacy and public policy. 

To kick off the first day of the workshop, Fellows heard from Stephanie Radix, JD, AAPA’s senior director of state advocacy and outreach, who gave a presentation on the importance of PAs being active in AAPA constituent organizations and engaging in state-level advocacy throughout their careers.

Following this presentation and in the spirit of focusing on policies that impact the PA profession, Meghan O’Brien, the director of federal advocacy at AAPA, explored PA practice policy issues at the federal level.

Fellows were also educated on PAEA’s federal policy priorities by PAEA’s Government Relations staff and enjoyed lunch with PAEA CEO Sara Fletcher, PhD, who provided an update on the current work of the Association and answered questions from Fellows on key issues in PA education.

The day then concluded with 2022 PAEA Student Health Policy Fellow Brittny Dawkins, PA-S, who discussed best practices for completing a community-based advocacy project for the fellowship as well as her journey with leadership beyond the fellowship by serving as AAPA’s student academy president-elect.  

On day two, the focus of the workshop shifted to highlighting exceptional PA faculty leaders and preparing Fellows for how to conduct effective advocacy meetings with members of Congress. To set students up for success in advancing legislative aims, Caitlin Peruccio from the office of House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro along with PAEA’s external lobbying partners from Polsinelli, LLC, provided insights on current policy priorities in Washington and detailed best practices and tips for interacting with congressional staff as a grassroots advocate.

To reinforce the fellowship’s leadership objective, Edward Williams, DMSc, M.Ed., PA-C, department chair and program director for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences PA Program, shared his personal experience with leadership, health policy, and advocacy and discussed his critical role as chair of PAEA’s Government Relations Steering Committee. Elias Villarreal, Jr., DMSc, PA-C, Associate Dean/Founding Program Director/Professor of Family Medicine for the UC San Diego Atkinson PA Program, finished the day by discussing how he is able to leverage his position on the National Advisory Council on the National Health Service Corps (NACNHSC) to provide subject matter expertise and influence federal policy by serving as a representative for PA faculty. 

On the final day of the workshop, the Fellows participated in advocacy meetings with their elected representatives’ offices in support of the Perinatal Workforce Act and the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Reauthorization Act. If enacted, the Perinatal Workforce Act would provide new resources to expand PA program capacity through a new $15 million annual funding stream to support program operations and student scholarships. The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Reauthorization Act would strengthen the PA mental health workforce by extending the authorization of the STAR Loan Repayment program for an additional five years at $40 million annually, providing awards up to $250,000 for a six-year service commitment.  

Thank you to all who volunteered their time and effort in making our 10th PAEA Student Health Policy Fellowship a true success! Students and faculty with questions regarding the Student Health Policy Fellowship are invited to contact