The Baton Has Been Passed

William Kohlhepp, DHSc, PA-C, has been a familiar face on the Board of Directors for quite a while now, having served as treasurer for six years and then president elect for the past year. You probably know that he’s the dean of the School of Health Sciences at Quinnipiac University, but here are some things that you may not know about him.

1. When you first joined the PAEA Board of Directors, did you have your sights set on the presidency or was that an interest that developed later on?

Whenever I have gotten involved in an organization or effort, I commit myself fully to meeting expectations. In many instances, that commitment has ended up in leadership roles. While I didn’t aspire to become PAEA president, I knew it was a possibility — and I welcomed the opportunity. However, I did want to spend enough time on the board to ensure I would be effective in that role. Serving as treasurer immersed me in the work of the Association in a way that truly prepared me for the role of president.

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

I look forward to working with the PAEA Board of Directors in the coming year to finalize the organization’s strategic plan. I have seen the challenges faced by PA education as it sits at the crossroads of higher education and health care, both of which are undergoing dramatic changes. I am confident that PAEA’s new strategic plan will give us the needed focus on the highest priorities to allow us to effectively move into the future. Strategic thinking always gets me going.

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

The discussion being led by AAPA on full practice authority and responsibility (FPAR) will have tremendous implications for the future of the PA profession and the education process for PA students. I believe it is critical that PAEA be integral to those discussions and not be forced to react to solidified proposals. I will fight for a decision-making process that involves approval by all four organizations (AAPA, NCCPA, ARC-PA, and PAEA). A move to FPAR would be transformative for the profession and needs all of our input.

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

I am excited to be PAEA’s president during the 50th anniversary of the PA profession. I look forward to the opportunity to speak at numerous events throughout the year reflecting back on 50 years of PA education and discussing the role that PAEA plays in shaping PA education and its ability to prepare PAs to effectively practice in the future.

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

I have been most impressed with how my predecessors have engaged the Board in the generative and strategic thinking we have been using. I have also learned that it is important not to cram the agenda too full and to give the Board time to mull over topics. And it is critical to provide time to relax and get to know each other as people so that we can come together as a team.

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

I was the chair of the NCCPA committee that had oversight of the process that ultimately resulted in the drafting of the position paper on the Competencies for the PA Profession. Getting the viewpoints of the leaders of the “Four Orgs” focused in one direction is challenging, but ensuring that consideration has been given to the viewpoints of all stakeholders is essential. We employed a process that worked, and the competencies were a strong statement of what is needed for PAs to advance patient care.

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

I have been surprised by how much I have gotten back from investing my time in leadership. I am most pleased by the nationwide network of friends that has come from my involvement. I have also developed many leadership and management skills that have served me well over the years. Surprisingly, one of the skills most helpful to me has been the ability to effectively run meetings. I will certainly count on those skills in the coming year.

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

My favorite quote comes from Jim Collins in his book From Good to Great: “Get involved in something that you care so much about that you want to make it the greatest it can possibly be.”

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

I become PAEA president at a time when I am being pulled to focus my time and attention on another important role — that of grandfather. Two years ago, with the birth of my grandson, I became a grandfather for the first time and have been slowly adapting to the role. Then in July 2016, I needed to accelerate my efforts as my other son and his wife became parents of triplets (two girls and a boy). Fun times!

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

Your ideas, your energy, and your view of the future need to be at that table. PA education is the foundation for practice, and we educators see first-hand how to make it exceptional. The Association is the driving force for change in PA education, and even the smallest effort on your part will make a difference. You will find yourself transformed by the experience of working side-by-side with like-minded colleagues committed to a better future.