Meet the New Members of the PAEA Board of Directors

This year, we are pleased to welcome five new members to our PAEA Board of Directors. From addressing the role of AI in health education, to finding ways to bring equity, diversity, and inclusion into the profession, these dedicated educators have a finger on the pulse of PA education and are ready to support member needs. These individuals are not only incredible educators, but also servant leaders ready to work on behalf of PAEA members in the coming year and beyond.

Dipu Patel, DMSc, MPAS, PA-C

President Elect Associate Director and Assistant Professor University of Pittsburgh Doctor of PA Studies Program

President Elect Dipu Patel is excited to address important issues in PA education.

“I am looking forward to building partnerships with our sister organizations and other healthcare and educational institutions, both nationally and internationally to bring to the forefront how we can deliver high-quality education and care through the use of technology with a human touch. Furthermore, I would like to focus on policy development and advocacy to highlight our continued commitment to supporting PA educators and students while advancing new ideas so we can stay on pace with the shifting healthcare and education landscape,” she said.

Patel anticipates the need for PAEA to guide PA programs on adapting to changes and shifts in healthcare delivery modalities caused by increasing reliance on AI and telehealth.

“While no one can truly predict what will happen, one thing is for sure, rapid growth and change in healthcare education will certainly be part of the equation,” she said. “I think AI and telehealth tools will increasingly be implemented in education and training, reflecting the evolving healthcare landscape. Specifically, how telehealth care and education can be leveraged to address clinical site shortages, preceptor shortages, and access to care in an equitable manner. I think there will be an even greater focus on learning in interdisciplinary teams. The healthcare teams of the future will not only be composed of healthcare providers, nurses, and caseworkers but also data scientists, computer scientists, and AI/ML algorithms.”

Over the next year, Patel plans to be an advocate for progress on issues that matter to PA educators.

“I am looking forward to engaging with our membership regarding issues that have been in active discussion – clinical site shortages and professional degrees, to name a couple – while bringing my knowledge and expertise in digital health, AI, and technology to leverage and enrich the discussion and possibly work towards solutions with fresh ideas for all our members. Prioritizing continuous professional development and inclusive advocacy for our members and students will lead to improved outcomes for our profession and for all the patients we serve,” she said. 

Shalon R. Buchs, MHS, PA-C

Secretary Associate Professor and Director for CQI Florida State University College of Medicine PA Program

Shalon R. Buchs has served as a PAEA Board member before, after being elected in 2020 to serve a term as Director at Large.

“One of my strongest skills is listening. As Secretary of the Board, this particular skill will be valuable as I ensure accurate minutes. Our members have elected each of us to the Board and through that election, have a voice. Since first becoming a Board member, I choose to use my skill as a listener to convey their needs to the Board as often as possible,” she said.

Buchs predicts growth for PA education in 2024.

“I suspect the number of PA programs will continue to rise. This, in turn, requires PAEA’s readiness to answer with support for new and expanding programs. Additionally, I anticipate innovation and increased advocacy as we continue to grapple with a variety of recent legislative changes impacting education and medicine,” Buchs said. “I envision our learners becoming greater partners in advocacy; as this generation, Gen Z, finds their footing, they have the potential to bring change wherever they go. They are socially aware and are mindful of their mental health. This can be very powerful as they begin to advocate in their own spaces.”

Buchs added she is most excited “about the opportunities that lie ahead for PAEA in 2024 as we continue to shape the trajectory of the profession through our mission and values.”

Daytheon Sturges, PhD, MPAS, PA-C

Director at Large Associate Program Director (MEDEX), Vice Chair (Department of Family Medicine) University of Washington School of Medicine MEDEX Northwest PA Program

Daytheon Sturges has not only been elected a Director at Large, he is also the recipient of a PAEA Faculty and Staff Award.

“I am most excited to serve and learn about our member programs and their interests so that I can intentionally represent transformative, forward progress. The saying goes ‘If you’ve seen one PA program, then you’ve seen one PA program.’ However, I want to see beyond this trope in order to effect equitable, positive, and sustainable change that encompasses our vision of ‘Health for All.’ This excitement drives my passion,” he said.

Sturges expects PA educators will continue to innovate this year.

“I predict that programs are still searching for an ideal mode of instructional delivery finding a balance between in-person, virtual synchronous, and asynchronous mechanisms. The ‘pandemic paradox’ also still exists that has altered communication styles, connectiveness, sense of belonging, and wellbeing among our colleagues and students,” Sturges said. “We are also seeing the pendulum swing toward more blatant and permissible discriminatory practices targeting marginalized, racialized, and minoritized identities. The time is now to begin exploring ways in how we will continue to show up for each other and develop resources rooted in our mission.”

Sturges plans to bring sincerity to his role as a Board member.

“I will bring my authentic self to the role in order to fully connect with my colleagues to establish an elevated level of trust. Using my public health skills coupled with my experience in PA education, I will assess issues and accordingly act using an equity lens, while continuing to celebrate the beauty that is diversity, justice, and inclusion,” he said.

Karen Graham-Burnet, PhD, PA-C

Director at Large Professor Cedarville University PA Program

Karen Graham-Burnet said she is honored and excited to begin her new role as Director at Large after serving on various committees and subcommittees.

“PAEA is filled with talented and innovative educators and administrators at all levels of the organization, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work more closely with them over the next three years. I look forward to collaborating and problem-solving with my colleagues as we continue to navigate this period of growth and change in PA education and work together to advance the organization’s mission of ‘excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion,’” she said.

Graham-Burnet anticipates a period of learning this first year so she may better understand the role and functioning of the Board within the organization and begin to serve and support our member programs.

“In 2024 and beyond, it will be crucial for us to find additional ways to support and engage the new generation of PA faculty across the diverse landscape of PA education, many of whom have had a tumultuous start to their education career due to the pandemic,” she said.

According to Graham-Burnet, she has a specific connection to the next generation of PA educators.

“I bring to the Board a sense of urgency about faculty retention and leadership development in PA education that stems both from research I have conducted and from relationships with young faculty. My hope is for all PA educators to experience the professional growth and sense of belonging that I’ve been so privileged to enjoy in this organization throughout my career,” she said.

Shaun L. Grammer, DMSc, PA-C

Director at Large Program Director University of Nebraska Medical Center PA Program

This year, Shaun Grammer begins his second three-year term as a Director at Large for the PAEA. Grammer said he was excited and honored to continue his service.

“I am eager to build upon the great work PAEA has done. Collaborating with fellow Board members, my focus is on making PA education the best it can be, while ensuring essential resources for the faculty and staff of PA programs nationwide,” he said.

Looking ahead to 2024, Grammer anticipates continued progress in justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) within PA education. He also foresees increased advancements in artificial intelligence and a rising trend of faculty pursuing advanced doctoral degrees.

In serving members during his board tenure, Grammer aims to leverage his listening skills.

“Understanding the diverse needs of our members is crucial,” he said. “I hope to equip them with the necessary tools for success and drive excellence in our students’ education.”