House of Delegates Debates Education Resolutions  

At the AAPA meeting this week, the HOD discussed various issues related to PA education, including delivery of online instruction, PAs earning CME for precepting students, and standardizing the degree awarded to PA students upon graduation. The House also heard a commendation for retiring PAEA CEO Timi Agar Barwick, thanking her for her 27 years of service to the PA profession.

The discussion of online education grew out of a resolution put forward by the Tennessee Academy of PAs last year that proposed encouraging the ARC-PA to require PA programs to provide at least 80 percent of didactic instruction face-to-face. Following extensive debate on the evidence for the efficacy of face-to-face versus online education, the HOD referred that resolution to a task force. The task force, which included former PAEA President Jennifer Snyder, proposed broader language encouraging the use of “innovative teaching methods” and technology to enhance PA education when appropriate, and, with some revisions, this was adopted. A related resolution encouraging ARC-PA to require that PA training programs provide a “certain percentage of didactic instruction as in-person or live lectures” was rejected by the House.

PAEA President Jon Bowser testifies before the AAPA House of Delegates. Photo: Steven Lane/PAEA

PAEA President Jon Bowser testified during these debates that PAEA’s preferred approach is to focus on the outcomes for which programs are accountable, then leave it up to programs to determine the best way to achieve them. He also addressed the House briefly on the first morning, reporting on PAEA’s continuing work on outcomes-based accreditation and on the work of the PAEA-led task force that is revising the Competencies for the PA Profession, incorporating the work of PAEA’s Competencies for New PA Graduates task force. “We appreciate the opportunity to be part of these deliberations on the important issues facing the profession,” said Bowser. PAEA has official observer status in the House; PAEA officers can testify on resolutions but not vote.

The House debated the issue of awarding CME for precepting at some length, with much of the discussion concerning whether CME would also be awarded for the teaching of PAs in postgraduate programs. The delegates ultimately chose to postpone this issue and focus on encouraging the awarding of more CME for preceptors of entry-level PA students. PAs will now be able to receive Category I CME for precepting students at a much faster rate than they could previously. Bowser testified to PAEA’s support of all efforts to incentivize precepting, at a time when many programs are struggling to find enough clinical rotations and preceptors.

The House referred to committee a resolution supporting “affirmative action programs and other diversity enhancement initiatives in PA education,” with the goal of increasing the diversity and cultural competence of PAs entering the profession. Bowser testified that PAEA is in support of all such initiatives and has advocated strongly for the inclusion of a “diversity standard” in the 5th edition of the Accreditation Standards, which are currently under revision.

A final education-related resolution proposed that AAPA support adoption of “standardized degree titles for PA educational programs at the master and doctoral levels, to wit: Master of Medical Science (MMSc) and Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc).” This engendered significant debate and was ultimately referred to a committee for further study. Past President Lisa Alexander testified that changing the degree awarded is a lengthy and cumbersome process in educational institutions, often involving review by state agencies.

HOD resolutions have no formal authority regarding PA education or the ARC-PA Standards, but they contribute to the body of AAPA policy that guides the Academy’s actions in its work with other PA organizations related to education, accreditation, and other non-clinical issues. The full summary of actions should be available on the House of Delegates section of the AAPA website in the next few days.