Putting Learning into Practice – Susan McDiarmid

glasses on a book

Name: Susan McDiarmid, EdD, MS, PA-C 

Title:  Assistant Program Director & Director of Clinical Education

Program: Westfield State University PA Program (Massachusetts)

Program URL: https://www.westfield.ma.edu/academics/degrees/ms-physician-assistant-studies

What PAEA learning activity did you attend and when?
2022 PAEA Education Forum & Workshops – San Diego

Would you recommend this learning activity to other members and, if so, why?
It is with great enthusiasm that I recommend PAEA’s Education Forum and Workshops to other members! Many of us who enter PA education as faculty and staff have limited or no experience in teaching or higher education in general. Research shows that most of the new PA faculty transition directly from clinical practice.

When I leave events sponsored by PAEA, I find myself feeling a sincere sense of community and excitement about being a PA educator. The Forum and workshops are a place to engage in conversations with people experiencing similar successes and challenges in the specialty of PA education. There are Forum sessions and workshops on best practices for competency-based education, DEI, new faculty, admissions, recruiting new preceptors, etc. You never know what conversation (and potential future collaboration) will be initiated by the person sitting next to you in a Forum session or workshop! This has been true for me year after year.

What was your biggest takeaway/”aha” moment?
My biggest takeaway/aha moment was realizing the value and importance of mentorship, both formal and informal. Identifying a mentor in a similar education role at another institution has allowed me to reach out after the Forum or workshop to ask questions, bounce ideas off of them, and occasionally, commiserate with them. Many of us face the same challenges at different PA programs. Having someone to talk with can help us evaluate potential solutions while also making us feel as though we have a community of support.

Tell us about what you have put into practice because of this learning activity. Over the years, the PAEA Education Forums and Workshops have opened my eyes to best practices and innovative techniques in medical education for both didactic and clinical education. This past year, many of the Forum sessions I attended focused on remediation of the struggling learner. The sessions provided some recommendations on ways to better support these students during their entire PA school journey.

NOTE: The 2023 PAEA Education Forum and Fall Workshops will be held in New Orleans, October 9-14, 2023. For a schedule of upcoming events, visit: https://paeaonline.org/events.

This article is part of the Putting Learning into Practice article series. We love to feature how our members are taking what they have learned through the professional development opportunities offered by PAEA and applying it to practice. Interested in being featured? Submit your Member Story on the PAEA website.