Leadership Blog

Reflections on 2023

By Linda Sekhon, DHSc, MMS, PA-C, President of the PAEA Board of Directors and Sara Fletcher, PhD, CEO

As the end of 2023 approaches, our thoughts turn to what made this year so special, what we can learn from the steps we have taken, and how we can carry our well-earned positive momentum into 2024.

One of the year’s most impactful events was the Doctoral Summit. This event was a prime example of a member-led Association leveraging its network, organizational support, and expertise to advance work on the issues that matter most to our community.

In 2019, during the most recent revision of the Association’s position policy related to the entry-level degree, the PAEA membership voted to explore the implications of transitioning to an entry-level doctoral degree. In response to this request, PAEA created a Doctoral Summit Steering Committee to commission research and convene stakeholders to examine the opportunities, challenges, and consequences of this potential transformation in PA education.

The Steering Committee shared insights from the 2023 Doctoral Summit and a subsequent PAEA Member Survey to recommend a position policy to the Board of Directors. At the 2023 Business Meeting, members voted to approve the position policy, affirming the master’s degree as the entry-level degree for the profession and PAEA’s commitment to continue exploring how doctoral degrees can optimally contribute to PA education.

PAEA was proud to facilitate an in-depth exploration of this important issue and support our members in planning for the future needs of PA programs, students, and the profession.

We made several key innovations in 2023 to directly address our members’ need, using data and insights from the Membership Market Survey to drive decisions so we could invest our time and resources into the offerings that our members find most valuable.

One of the highlights in our year was the launch of PAEA’s new Assessment Center, which has transformed and modernized the exam experience for students and faculty. Members can now purchase, schedule, and deliver exams from within the PAEA Member Community. 

In recent years, the world has learned to conduct educational programming and other large-scale gatherings remotely. While the imminent need for virtual programming may have lessened, the technology has allowed us to increase equitable access to PAEA programming and foster connection among our members. With this in mind, PAEA affirmed that virtual programming is here to stay.

PAEA believes in the power of continued partnership with experts in our field. This year, we were proud to launch our formal support of the popular PA Path Podcast, along with two other new offerings, All Things PA Education and The Journal of PA Education Podcast. These podcasts have created new opportunities to connect with leaders and trailblazers in the PA education field and share their knowledge in a popular media format.

PAEA also affirmed its commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) values. At the start of 2023, PAEA hired an experienced Chief EDI Officer who has helped the Association accelerate our work to support programs in their efforts to make PA education more welcoming, inclusive, and equitable to all. Our EDI programming continues to be popular, whether at the Education Forum in New Orleans, in-person workshops, or through remote offerings.

Isn’t that what we are all trying to do in PA education? Consider novel, even uncomfortable, ideas? Take advantage of methods made possible by new, but proven, technology? Find new ways to communicate exciting information? Invite new leaders who share our values into the conversation, so we are always moving forward?

At PAEA, we are mindful of the challenges facing healthcare ranging from workforce shortages, education costs, concerns about how AI will affect our work, or any new, unforeseen issues on the horizon. This year has demonstrated that some unpredictability needs to be part of our planning every year and 2024 will be no different. But 2023 has also given us confidence that the profession will rise to meet those challenges.