Putting Learning into Practice – Thea Cogan-Drew

glasses on a book

Name: Thea Cogan-Drew, DScPAS, PA-C 

Title:  Assistant Professor, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Service Learning 

Program: Rutgers University PA Program

Program URL: https://shp.rutgers.edu/physician-assistant/

What PAEA learning activity did you attend and when? Unpacking the DEI Toolkit workshop (Washington, DC Spring workshops, April 2023) 

Would you recommend this learning activity to other members and, if so, why?
This workshop was a great experience. I have to start by stating that our colleagues at PAEA are amazing. They were skilled at facilitating hard conversations, and at times even made themselves vulnerable for our beneficial learning. They challenged us to come up with forward-thinking ideas for growth for our programs. They were generous with their time, knowledge, and resources.
I have attended the annual Education Forum since becoming a PA educator eight years ago, and as with so many PAEA experiences, the opportunity to network with like-minded colleagues was invigorating.

Among attendees, I observed a collective feeling that the workshop requires two days. This is absolutely no slight on the facilitators, but more a comment on the time required to consider this work. There is necessary ‘unpacking’ of these topics before we get to the Toolkit and future-facing ideas. I feel we participants dug into the content and I would have loved to spend many more hours developing Toolkit-guided, specific next steps. 

What was your biggest takeaway/”aha” moment? My biggest ‘aha’ moment with regard to the DEI Toolkit was remembering how different policies and practices play out across our country. The struggles described by PA educator colleagues from different regions were distinct from mine and it was educational to think about these perspectives. 

Tell us about what you have put into practice because of this learning activity. From the workshop conversations and work, I have rewritten my job description for the Director of DEI with specific SMART goals for the upcoming academic year, including formation of a task force to enact a climate survey and incorporation of inclusion and belonging curriculum into a new Spring course. I have also created a list of longer-term goals, tasks, and projects for my personal growth and for the evolution of our PA Program.

NOTE: The DEI Toolkit is available for PAEA members to download in the Digital Learning Hub.

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.