PAEA’s New President: In Her Own Words

Previously the program director of the George Washington University PA program and now a professor of PA Studies there, Lisa Mustone Alexander, EdD, MPH, PA-C, got her start in volunteer leadership on PAEA’s Conference Planning Committee in the mid-1980s. But here are a few things you may not know about her.

1. When did you first set your sights on running for PAEA president?

To be honest, this is a position that has always been on my “leadership horizon.” From my early days as a PA faculty member, I was inspired by the faculty who took an active role in the organization. Naturally, I needed to work my way up, so to speak. Fortunately, my first program director insisted that all faculty seek out volunteer positions with the organization, so the expectations were clear —and volunteer service was part of our program’s culture. During my previous board service (20 years ago!), I had the opportunity to observe the organization as it prepared to transition to an independent entity. I was approached to run for president at that time, but I had just enrolled in a doctoral program and had enough good sense to know that there are only so many balls you can juggle at one time.

2. As president, what aspect of the role are you most excited about?

Once you get to know me, you won’t be surprised by my answer. I am excited about getting to know the faculty and program directors from each and every PA program. These are the folks in the trenches who are the gatekeepers for our profession and can provide me with important insights into the future of PA education. This, in turn, will help inform me for my work with the Board of Directors.

3. Over the next year, what is the biggest challenge or decision you anticipate the Association will face?

Many people have expressed concern about the growth of programs and whether we have reached market saturation. This is a multi-dimensional problem that involves numerous stakeholders. I am proud of the relationships we have with our external partners and believe that in the year ahead we will constructively address many important issues like this. As we have done throughout the entire growth cycle, PAEA will continue to ensure that faculty are equipped with the highest quality programs and products that promote their growth and effectiveness.

4. What do you see as the most promising opportunity for PAEA?

Our profession continues to be a remarkable health workforce success story. Each day provides all of us with the opportunity to inculcate students with our core values, helping them to aspire to be the finest representatives of the profession. PAEA is able to directly impact this by promoting evidenced-based strategies that enhance educational techniques used by faculty at our member programs.

5. What have you learned from observing previous PAEA presidents that will help you in your new role?

I have had the privilege to work with many past and present leaders, and I believe their integrity and dedication to transparency are the traits that will help me the most in my new role.

6. In your career, what is the one accomplishment you’re most proud of?

I was invited to Rwanda many years ago as part of a delegation charged with conducting a needs assessment related to health professions education. This lead to a Fulbright senior specialist position where I worked with faculty at the University of Rwanda to develop a clinical officer program that has graduated more than 200 individuals in the past five years. I traveled there recently and was amazed at the quality of the graduates and their passion to be change agents to improve access to quality health care. It inspires me every day and makes me proud that I had a small part in their evolution.

Image: Lisa Mustone Alexander

7. What has surprised you most about being a leader?

Many think being a leader isolates you from others, but I find that it opens up so many opportunities to connect with individuals who, together, can accomplish marvelous things!

8. Everyone loves a good inspirational quote; do you have a favorite one?

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

9. Can you tell us something about you that people might be surprised to hear?

I am an avid Bruce Springsteen fan and have attended more than 40 of his concerts — even in Europe. I was lucky enough to get tickets to his Broadway show, which I’m looking forward to going to in March.

10. What advice would you give to those who are considering volunteer leadership but are still reluctant to make the move?

Don’t hesitate for a moment! You will be surprised by how much you will grow as a person, and the connections you will make with other faculty will expand your world view.