New PDs Learn to Excel at Essential Skills

Thirty-four new program directors and associate PDs, most with fewer than two years’ experience, convened outside of Washington, DC, last week for PAEA’s PD101 Workshop. This popular annual workshop, facilitated by four experienced PDs and department chairs, attracted members from 32 PA programs in 18 states. Some attendees came from as far away as California, while others made the trip from various regions of the country including Iowa, Florida, New York, and Alabama.

From learning about the “nuts and bolts of faculty retention” to demystifying how to meet the ARC-PA Standards, participants spent four days acquiring the skills necessary to become successful program directors and making valuable connections with fellow attendees from around the country.

“The best part about these workshops is that you get to meet a lot of other people who are in the same boat as you are, so it’s a great way to network,” said Jason Radke, MMS, PA-C, of the Rosalind Franklin University PA program.

Other topics covered during the workshop included curriculum development, assessment, conflict resolution, and fostering institutional support, along with plenty of time built in for small group mentoring with the facilitators.

“The workshop has not only met my expectations but far exceeded them,” said Beth Smolko, DMSc, PA-C, program director of the developing PA program at Frostburg State University. “I didn’t want to miss a minute of it. The speakers have such a depth of information that you really want to be sure to grab all of those droplets and pearls of wisdom that they’re giving you.”

But the event wasn’t all work and no play. PAEA CEO Timi Agar Barwick and President Lisa Mustone Alexander joined the group for the opening session, which included a performance by The New Theater of Medicine. The performance, titled “The Autopsy of Dr. Melinda J. Smith,” is a play about professionalism, burnout, and one woman’s experiences from the first day of medical school through her residency.

A “dine around” held on the second evening was a particular favorite of attendees. With PAEA staff members joining the group for dinner at various local restaurants, this event gave everyone a chance to socialize with their peers.

Participants said that they appreciated how interactive the workshop was overall and really got a lot out of being immersed in the content with all of the in-depth discussions, role-playing, and Q&As.

“I think the most valuable thing that I’ve learned is that there’s still a lot to learn,” said Radke. “I’ve certainly gained a wealth of knowledge here — and there’s a lot to do once I get home.”