Members Elect New Board Members and Adopt Doctorate Degree Policy

PAEA members elected a new president elect – former Director at Large Kara Caruthers, MS, PA-C, University of Tennessee Health Science Center — among four new Board members chosen at the election held during PAEA’s virtual Education Forum in October. Caruthers will be joined by new directors at large Shalon Buchs, MHS, PA-C, associate director at the University of Florida PA program; Robert Hadley, PhD, PA-C, Radford University PA program, and Shaun Grammer, DMSc, PA-C, program director at the University of Nebraska Medical Center PA program. Longtime Board member Janie McDaniel, MS, was re-elected to a second term as secretary as well. The new Board members will take office on January 1, when Michel Statler, MLA, PA-C, will begin her term as president.

“I’m honored to have been selected to follow in the legacy of great PA educators, especially during these challenging times,” said Caruthers. “I am hopeful that we will continue to lead the profession in education, inclusion, equity and justice issues, and evidence-based research that allows Health for All.”

At the business meeting, the Association’s formal annual meeting, attendees approved 10 motions, including revised Competencies for the PA Profession, a revised policy on the terminal and entry-level degree for the profession, and a number of changes to the PAEA Bylaws, mostly regarding membership criteria and eligibility for service.

The Competencies for the PA Profession were revised by a PAEA-led task force consisting of two representatives from each of the four national PA organizations (Four Orgs). These competencies, which aim to define “the specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes that physician assistants (PA) in all clinical specialties and settings in the United States should be able to demonstrate throughout their careers” were first approved in 2005, then revised in 2012. The latest revision took place over the past two years and included a charge to “ensure alignment with the Core Competencies for New PA Graduates,” which PAEA had developed — and members approved in 2019 — to provide a framework for accredited PA programs to standardize the practice readiness for new graduates. The final Competencies for the PA Profession document also included input from the Boards of the Four Orgs and from a public comment period for all PAs and PA educators in 2019–2020.

The most discussed issue at the business meeting was the PA doctorate degree, which was on the agenda in the form of a new proposed policy from the Board, to which PAEA’s “Terminal Degree of the Profession” policy had been referred by the membership at the 2019 business meeting. During the intervening year, the Board adopted a data-informed approach that included funding the work of five research teams, holding an online town hall meeting, establishing a dedicated professional learning community, and devoting agenda time at the Town Hall hosted by PAEA President Howard Straker and CEO Mary Jo Bondy during the Forum. “The Board considered all of this input in developing the policy that you see on the business meeting agenda — which reflects the Board’s decision to support the master’s degree as both the terminal and entry-level degree,” said Statler, speaking on behalf of the Board. “We certainly support all PAs, as lifelong learners, in continuing to advance their education throughout their careers, including earning postgraduate doctorate degrees,” she added. Following a series of proposed amendments and discussion, the Board’s policy was ultimately approved.

In other actions, the membership approved changes to the Bylaws, and new language for our position policy on diversity. See the Summary of Actions for official language on this and all membership actions taken at the meeting.

At the end of the meeting, President Straker virtually “passed” the ceremonial gavel to Statler, in preparation for her term in 2021. Statler thanked Straker for his “steely leadership” during challenging times of a worldwide pandemic and renewed calls for racial justice. “The measure of a man is where he stands in times of controversy,” said Statler.