Who’s the Educator Here? Future Educator Fellows Shine at This Year’s Forum

Sixteen returning and 15 incoming Future Educator Fellows journeyed to Washington, DC for two-and-half days of programming exploring PA education during the Education Forum two weeks ago. The fellows are PA students who have been selected to participate in a year-long series of activities designed to prepare them for potential careers in PA education. 

Excitement was palpable as returning fellows embraced familiar faces, incoming fellows exchanged classroom stories, and everyone reviewed their schedules for the first full day. The Future Educator Development Steering Committee (FEDSC) welcomed the fellows with witty introductions, warm food, and a challenge. Each year, FEDSC designs a problem-solving challenge to expose the fellows to situations PA educators regularly encounter. This year’s challenge centered on new faculty recruitment. Fellows were tasked to envision themselves applying for an open faculty position at a PA program. They were encouraged to attend education sessions and connect with Forum attendees to discover what skills and experiences would make them a good candidate.

The second day was fully packed as the students met with congressional staff from 18 states then attended afternoon education sessions. Afterward, the 2018-2019 cohort prepared to showcase their culminating projects: rapid-fire presentations.

2018-2019 fellow Isidro Figueroa, Texas Tech University Health Science Center presents on the “hidden curriculum.” Photo: Kendall Mealy/PAEA

Rapid-fire presentations were the outgoing cohort’s chance to present material and engage an audience, as an educator would. Many students focused on an educator’s role in a student’s wellbeing, such as their mental health, medical identity, and confidence. Others tackled clinical education hot topics like OSCEs, medical simulation, and payment for clinical rotations. The 2018-2019 fellows presented to their peers, invited faculty from their programs, and other Forum attendees. If you missed their presentations, you can view their slides now on the Digital Learning Hub.

The final day started with a visit to the poster presentations, morning sessions, and David Sheff’s heartfelt closing keynote address. Then, the fellows returned to the problem-solving challenge. FEDSC encouraged them to think of new faculty qualifications within six domains: integrating technology, teaching techniques, assessment development, professional development, creating a culture of learning, and leadership.

2019-2020 fellow Sunayana Pydah, University of Lynchburg. Credit: Maureen Johnson/PAEA

In world café style, fellows rotated in groups and brainstormed the desired skills for each domain. Kathryn Fossaceca from DeSales University, a 2019-2020 fellow, emphasized the importance of “humanizing the classroom” as part of the learning culture. Doing so will “create a safe space” for students to be open, she said. Another 2019-2020 fellow, Sunayana Pydah from the University of Lynchburg, discussed an educator’s role to encourage students to be leaders and to “be an advocate for the profession.”

FEDSC chair John Ramos and member Ryan Hunton recognized the outgoing cohort for their hard work this past year, bestowing on each one a certificate and a handshake. PAEA President Jon Bowser and President Elect Howard Straker joined the closing session. Bowser emphatically thanked the fellows for their enthusiasm for profession and encouraged the outgoing cohort to continue investing in education by becoming preceptors or adjunct faculty, highlighting that their involvement with PAEA does not have to end here.

FEDSC designed the Future Educator Fellowship to mold the pipeline from clinical practice to education. You can find more information about the fellowship on its website.