Expert Insights from Program Leaders
October 18, 2021
Episode 16: Rutgers University - Matthew McQuillan, MS, PA-C

We speak with Matthew McQuillan, MS, PA-C about Rutgers University and the role of medical humanities.


Mr. Matthew McQuillan, MS, PA-C, DFAAPA is the Department Chair for the Rutgers School of Health Professions Department of PA Studies and Practice. He is a nationally renown leader and educator who has led the accrediting body through one of the most difficult times in the history of our profession. His passion for faculty development, research, and the medical humanities is palpable and he shared with Stephane and Kevin how Rutgers has evolved to focus on the humanities and service to their community.

The purpose of this podcast is to provide news and information on the PA profession and is for informational purposes only. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and guests and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policy of the University of Arizona.

Transcript

Unknown Speaker  0:08  
Welcome to this episode of the PA path podcast. I'm your host, Kevin Lohenry. We are glad you could join us as we seek to better understand the PA profession

Unknown Speaker  0:24  
what moving through the healthcare arena feels like and we do that through film, through literature through poetry through art. And there's a lot of self reflection.

Unknown Speaker  0:36  
Well, hello, and thank you for joining us again today Stephanie and I speak with Mr. Matthew McQuillan, who serves as the Department Chair for the Rutgers University Department of PA studies in practice. And as the chair of the commission for the accreditation review commission on education for the physician assistant, which oversees accreditation for all of the PA programs in the United States. We spoke about Rutgers accreditation, and Matt's passion for the medical humanities, which provides a deeper view of life through the lens of our stories. As always, you can learn more about Matt and his program through our show notes on our website, Pa path podcast.com, under the blog section for show notes. Matt, thank you again for joining us today, Stephen are excited to learn more about Rutgers and learn more about your background. Let's start by talking about your personal path to becoming a PA.

Unknown Speaker  1:30  
Yeah, thank you. First of all, it's a pleasure to be here, Kevin, with both you and Stephanie. It's again, it's hard to think about me being someone who folks have anything that they want to hear about, I'm very pleased to be here. So in terms of talking about background, when I became a PA in the early 90s, it was more typical for folks to come after a career change. And so Pa was not something on my radar at all. In fact, before entering the program at Rutgers, I never met a PA. So I didn't really know much about the profession other than some investigation. I had been a communications major I didn't turn for Good Morning, America thought I wanted to work in the news industry, and then realized it wasn't for me. While I was interning and Good Morning America. I read about this upstart airline called people express that was a very different model. And hired individuals all with college degrees, who are cross fertilized are cross trained to work in many areas of the company. And so in my last year of college started working for them, unfortunately, the airline was absorbed by Continental and I had the I had the airline industry bug. So I spent seven years there, working as a crew member, but primarily working in training and recruiting. After bankruptcy number two of the airline, I realized it's time to change and do something different. I was looking at physical therapy, did some physical therapy shadowing and realized that wasn't the right path for me. Hence why the shadowing is so important, right for applicants to our programs. It was a very good friend of mine, her mom had had surgery on her neck, and said, You know, I met this guy who wasn't a physician, he's he was a PA never knew what that was. And I think that would be a great role for you. And that started my whole interest. So it was you know, a little bit divergent path to get there. The challenge for me was I was a communications and business major, I had no science courses. So I had to enroll at several local community colleges. Boy, that was a wake up call, you know, my first chemistry exam, I received a 37. And I thought, My My path is over. And I realized that to step up my game, hired a tutor and you know, and then here I am. Rutgers, where I eventually attended was not on my radar initially, I really wanted to go to Baylor, I interviewed they didn't accept me, thought my whole pa career was was not going to be what I anticipated. And and I went interviewed at Rutgers, and realized that was the place that I that I needed to be in here. And here and here I am, you know, it's those folks who spent my whole career at the same institution. And I admire so much folks who have been able to head all around the country and be involved in programs. And I'm getting to that point in my life where I don't know if that's likely to happen. Sure.

Unknown Speaker  4:25  
Matt, you know, I've always said that there's a recessive gene in some of us that draws us into education. You know, there's there, there are a lot of folks that have a lot of talents. And I think the one of the beauties of the PA profession is that it leads people down so many different interesting and unique paths. And there's a subset of us that that our path leads us into education. Tell us a little bit about your transition from clinical medicine and the into PA

Unknown Speaker  4:50  
education. Yeah, thanks, Steph. Yeah, I agree. And I'm so grateful to be not only in the PA profession, but as a faculty member. We really have Some amazing folks around the country that are so willing to work with each other and very strong friendships that have formed. In terms of how that happened, I actually was working at a local family practice, when there was an opportunity for an adjunct physical diagnosis instructor that that came to me and I decided to apply and, and was hired. So twice a week, I would head to the program and facilitate a small physical diagnosis group, and loved it. A year after that there were two positions that opened up at the program. And one of my classmates, Laurie Palfreyman, called me and said, there's two positions, you know, if you apply, I'll apply, let's apply together. And so in 1998, we started together and both still at the program. So, you know, I think there's a natural way that I've been led to some of these teaching or educational type of positions. As I mentioned, previously, when I was working for Continental Airlines, I spent most of my time in the training department and recruiting. And that is something I'd love tremendously. So it's interesting how that same thing occurred. You know, in the PA profession, it was not what I intended, when I applied to PA programs, it was to be a clinical PA. And so, you know, it was sort of serendipity of how things changed. And I thought I'll do this for a few years and see what happens 23 years later. Now, here I am, you've had

Unknown Speaker  6:26  
quite the path through leadership in the program from starting as an adjunct physical exam structure all the way up to your new position. So congratulations on that.

Unknown Speaker  6:35  
Thank you. Thanks. So

Unknown Speaker  6:36  
you know, you, you mentioned that you had interviewed other places, and that you really felt that Records was where you belonged. And, and then here you are back at Rutgers that kind of on the other side of the chalkboard so, so to speak, tell us about wreckers and, you know, what was it that made it special for you when you attended there as a student? And what do you think sets Rutgers apart as a PA program now?

Unknown Speaker  6:59  
Well, I first have to start by saying the feeling I received in that environment, I don't think is necessarily unlike other programs. I know it's not unlike other programs in terms of the students, right, we, we all have wonderful students that are so interested in bonding with each other and have the same goal of caring for others. Some of the reasons that Rutgers attracted me, and I think is a little bit different than some others is the length of the program. So we're 33 month program, which there's others of this length, but not many, you know, most typically in the 24 to 27 month range. And because I was someone without health care experience, I thought that would be more appropriate. I had offers at other programs, but eventually decided to go to Rutgers, I was attracted to the fact that there was full basic science each year, which was something I thought that was important for me because of my lack of a science degree. And at that time, some of the basic science courses were taught in together with the medical students, which was a strength certainly kicked my butt first day of class when I sat through histology lecture and thought they just covered everything I learned in a couple of semesters in one day. What am I in for? Right, so but I persevered, you know, and it was the first time that I had an experience that many of our PA students experienced these days. And that is, what happens if I fail out. Now, none of us were individuals who ever worried about failing out of school, and all of a sudden, in PA programs that feels like a reality. It's a possibility. So to go back to your to your question, stuff, that length of the program was very helpful. Also, the length and the varied clinical rotation opportunities was something that interested me, again, based on my wanting to be sure that I was prepared to be a clinical pa without having had that background. And, you know, over time, the program has certainly built on that same philosophy in terms of basic sciences back then we were about 21 to 23 credits per semester. We've scaled that back a little bit, because we really want the students to master their coursework. So our first two semesters now are 18 credits. So we really want to look at some of the overlap and make sure that we're teaching the students the concepts that are needed. But I also was attracted to and what we still have today is the opportunity for experiences in various types of settings. So we you know, we're in suburban New Jersey, but we have access to rotations in urban areas, Newark, New Jersey, or even in New York City, as well as some rural areas that at the time I was a student, we got a migrant worker clinic that we rotated out in South shores. And so those varied experiences I think, are important and still are important for preparing PA students who can work with a very popular elations at the time. That pass rate was impressive to me. Because up through I graduated in 96. And, and for many, many years it, the program had a consecutive 100% First time pass rate, as we increase class sizes, you know, we, we had a few failures here and there. But I, I looked at that and said, I know this program is going to prepare me and that's what, that's what I wanted. And so, you know, we talk about the program today, that same philosophy, as I mentioned, still exists. And we've added some topics. We have a threaded medical humanities curriculum that was initially started by my former director and department chair, Dr. Jill Reisman, both she and I enrolled in a doctor of medical humanities program. And we thought it was important to bring that aspect to our education. And what the medical humanities curriculum does is allow the students to experience from a patient perspective or a healthcare provider perspective, or a family member perspective, what moving through the healthcare arena feels like. And we do that through film, through literature, through poetry through arts, and there's a lot of self reflection. So we asked the students to talk about the impact of these stories on their lives and think about what that patient or what that other might be experiencing, or what self is experiencing. And that has been very important to our curriculum, we've increased our diverse student population, very intentionally, we're fortunate to be in an institution where diversity is also supported. And I, when I say diversity, I should also be clear about diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, you have to have all of those elements together. And we have that philosophy amongst our faculty, we have the philosophy in our schools, School of Health Professions, we have the philosophy at Rutgers University, that makes it easier for us to support students, you know, and one of the comments we hear, which really upsets me is when folks say, Well, if you increase your your student population, increase your diversity, your chances of students, a trading is going to be higher or not passing the exam. Not that's not true. No, we we did a deep dive into our admissions process and realized people, some of us with implicit biases, might have been screening out applicants who would be successful. So we looked at what those factors are, that might have been causing someone to not want to bring somebody in for an interview and did some education. And we saw our numbers change, we also realized that there was a need to support students not because solely because it was a diverse population. But because we consider diversity in a very holistic manner, not only in terms of race, sexual orientation, gender, socio economic status, but also educational background, when we accept students who do not have science degrees, but science prerequisites, they may struggle a little bit more and and what we did was start a program called grace, which is great review for academic success. It's a specific, almost tutoring type group where students are invited based on very specific criteria to give them additional educational support and mentoring to be successful in the program are first class that participated in that just graduated, and it was it was very successful. And so I bring these up as examples of what can be done to support students and show that you can have a diverse class. And it's, it's, it's amazing. And you all know this, because I know your beliefs and how you are your own programs. And there's a richness in the classes when you have a diverse population. It's so interesting when the students will say, we've, we can't believe how much we love our class. And yet we're also different. What is it that you look for what's the common thread, it's hard to define what that common thread is, other than a passion for medicine, of course, for caring for people. But I think if we're talking about some advice to students, it's reminding every applicant that they are uniquely qualified. And so to think about their own personal story, and how they can bring their own unique gifts and talents to the profession. And then we also have a free clinic that we run called Hope, which is the Health Outreach patient experience. It started a number of years ago and you both remember Dr. Josh Winkler and I were on the train heading to DC for a conference and and Joe and I were saying we really need a clinic experience where we can get the first year students interacting with patients because that is something we knew we wanted to do. And we went and found a clinic that was already operating that degree to have our students with Well, years later now we're in our fifth iteration of a physical location. And, and the concept has grown dramatically. And so what we do is one day a week, we have a clinic for those who are uninsured, in Plainfield, New Jersey, and the PA faculty, along with our students, and a couple of our alumni see patients there and again, geared for those who are uninsured. And it's been a fantastic opportunity for the students to get out and interact with each other, we have it set up so that our first year students are on a team with our third year student who leads that interaction and so they can really see where they're going to end up. So that has been an experience that has been good for our students and has attracted some individuals.

Unknown Speaker  15:45  
I'm so glad you brought up Joe, the Joe was such a great champion for the PA profession. And, you know, given that there's some vitriol out there in the medical community in a very small portion of it. But there's some challenges related to our profession and where we're going, or where they think we're going. Joe would be the first guy to step up and say, That's BS.

Unknown Speaker  16:08  
He was such a supporter of the PA profession, you may remember he graduated as a PA. And then as soon as he graduated was accepted into medical school, he was one of the first physicians in the state, in private practice to hire a PA, and continue to do so until he retired from practice and joined us. So he was our first full time medical director. And that tradition has continued today with Dr. Elizabeth de Prospero, who's joined us as a full time Medical Director.

Unknown Speaker  16:40  
Yeah, I remember he, he and at the time I was at Midwestern University in Arizona, he had our full time Medical Director really got along well, and did a co presentation on how to be an effective medical director at pa Watson just just a lovely human being. So

Unknown Speaker  16:57  
he really was, and we miss him. And he's, you know, made such a contribution to our program and, and started, you know, initiatives that live on to this day.

Unknown Speaker  17:06  
What a great legacy. Matt, you also talked about the humanities a little bit you we just started in our program, doing just a Scotia medical humanities in one of our behavioral sciences courses. And so we have an English professor from the main campus that comes over and teaches with a pediatrician that has a passion for the medical humanities. And for me, what's been most interesting is just to watch students try things from a different perspective, understanding the narrative of the person that's that's in front of you, and maybe getting into a deeper understanding of the patient's background and reason why they're coming to you for help. So can you tell us a bit more about your own evolution of thought with medical humanities as you've been in this program?

Unknown Speaker  17:54  
Absolutely. I don't know that entering as a student, I thought about this perspective. Because many of us come in thinking, I've got to learn the medicine, right. I've got to learn everything, I everything, everything I need to know in medicine, pharmacology, physical diagnosis, medical, interviewing, and thinking about particularly those pacing patient interactions as sort of formulaic, but came to really appreciate the impact of the relationship that as PDAs, or any type of health care provider, that we form with our patients, because that's the basis for which you really can understand the patient experience and make sure you're providing the best care possible. So through the humanities, it's it's allowed us to explore that to a to a deeper level. And the students love it. The Ethics course that I teach in the first semester, pulls them out of micro pulls them out of anatomy, pulls them out of genetics, biochemistry, and gets them talking, you know, will will read a piece about a medical error that was made written, you know, by a clinician, and they'll love to dissect it. Oftentimes, they drift into understanding the medicine, why was this decision made? And I pull them back and say, let's talk about the experience. How would you feel? Do you think it's going to happen to you that you'll be involved in a medical error? What are the things you believe can prevent that from happening or how you can recover? And so the conversations become broader and deeper from that perspective, and I think provides the opportunity to for students do a bit more reflecting about a patient's story, right? How many times have we taught that that, you know, your way we write our SOAP Notes is, you know, 53 year old, Caucasian woman who presents with the coffin fever, and I remember reading notes that were sent from specialists that I referred patients to, and some of those specials would start with, you know, this, this lovely woman who was a homemaker or an accountant. And I thought, what why are they saying that? That's not that's not relevant? That was early in my career. And I think come to realize it helps give you the full picture of that patient and who they are outside of simply their diagnosis. Right. And I think as, as I get older, I appreciate the fact that others might consider me more holistically than what my presenting symptom may be. Right. And so relationship building is so essential. And, and it's so you know, there's this whole concept of medicine that was very much physician centered, right. And he's physician, because all the studies earlier on talk about that, and then swung very much to patient centered. And now we really talk about a concept called relationship centered, recognizing there's two individuals here that are interacting, and we both have to be aware of what's happening in it for ourselves as the as the clinician and for the patient to really ensure that that bond is strong, and that we create an environment where a patient feels comfortable. So that sort of, you know, what we hope to accomplish? You know, and the students call my course, the soft course, because it's not very hard. But one of the students when we started orientation this year, said, When are we going to have medical ethics? I don't know who teaches that. But, but I'm sure you know, that sort of a fluff course. And I said, Well, that's my course. And the students were all laughing Oh, I didn't mean to offend you. I said, No, no, no, it's okay. You know, it's not intended to be a difficult course, like, like anatomy. However, that's, it's no less important. Right? If you don't establish a good rapport with your patient, then how are you really going to find out what's what's really troubling the most,

Unknown Speaker  21:32  
my experience has been, there's usually a few in the class, that really have a hard time pivoting to this perspective, that, you know, as you were talking about, they hold on to the science and, and they have a hard time getting in touch with their emotional side as to why that matters in the practice of medicine. So do you have any? Do you have any tips on how you help them navigate that?

Unknown Speaker  21:54  
Well, I think the first step is helping them recognize and just appreciate that that's a perspective that they have, and then reflect on it and decide whether it's something they want to explore more. Probably the the challenge we have with that is students who want the answer. And oftentimes in these situations, there is no right answer, right? And part of the problem is we, in all of our examinations, and multiple assessments are asking the students to come to an answer. And oftentimes, in these discussions, there is no one right answer. Or we can talk about maybe different ways this situation could be approached. But every interaction is going to be slightly different, because the two individuals involved come from very different perspectives. And then life stories and values and beliefs. There's one concept I have challenged myself and I challenges students is, you know, and when a patient asks you, well, well, what would you do in this situation, and I caution the students not to go down that road, because it's important to say, what someone else does may be very different from what you do based on your own belief system, and the things that you value. And so I try to stay away from saying, Well, if this was my family member, I would recommend this, unless, of course, I know the patient very well, you know, it's, it's not always possible to know, in every encounter, right, you're working in an emergency room, you may not have the opportunity to get to know that person on that deeper level. And I don't think that comes from a place of, of not wanting to give an answer to the patient. Sometimes you have a patient in front of you who might be more traditional, and is looking for you to say, here's what you should do. And so that's sort of a belief you can uncover versus, you know, do you want help in sort of figuring out what decision works best in your life? So I think my approach continues to evolve. Maybe that is realizing I know less the older I get, maybe there's some wisdom there. I don't know,

Unknown Speaker  23:57  
that's been an observation of mine. For students. You know, we often we routinely admit students who come from a science background and you know, basic sciences and hard sciences tend to be a little more cut and dried, a little more black and white. And then we transition them into clinical medicine. And there's a lot of ambiguity, you know, we like we would love to have all of the answers and all the information to make the best informed decisions. But sometimes we, you know, we have to make decisions in the face of ambiguity without all of the information that we'd like to have. And, and that's a that's a, I think that's a frustrating thing for students. And I think the humanities are a nice way to kind of introduce them to some of that ambiguity and maybe help develop some of that ambiguity, ambiguity, tolerance.

Unknown Speaker  24:43  
Absolutely. No, it's important that the students understand standard of care. You know, that's a concept of course, we all teach because that's, that's important. But that you you can't deviate from that until you know, the standard of care. And then you can defend While you might have made a recommendation or a plan that was different than that I was chatting with a student yesterday about her struggles. And we all see examples of this to where their students are so high performing and have high expectations. And many of them excel in the didactic portion, and then sometimes are more challenged on the clinical rotations, because it's, it's not so cut and dried. And the opposite is also true. So this student, you know, was, was, who was a high performing student, which is sharing with me how the patient interactions are much more challenging for her. Because it's things are not always so clear. And I said to her, first of all, be kind to yourself, be compassionate, the fact that you recognize that is great, now we can figure out what a plan is to help you get beyond that, but you haven't even gone on clinicals yet. And so you can be open with your preceptors, you know, it's self assessing is extremely important. And you share that with others who can then help you sort of work through that. And you know, that she just sort of had this relief in her face that okay, it's gonna be, it's gonna be okay. Right, I said, you know, the, the dynamics of a patient interaction, are not always easy for folks to develop. But if you're intentional about it, you can get better. And I said, look at the interaction we have, you're very comfortable talking. And that's oftentimes what is happening in a patient interaction. The difference is you have to get somewhere, right, you have to make sure you get the information you need to come up with a diagnosis and a plan. So it can't simply be, you know, a friendly conversation, there is an intention to it. And that comes with time.

Unknown Speaker  26:37  
So Matt, you have taken an active role in the AR CPA accreditation, tell us a little bit about your your service in that way. First of all, thank you for your for your professional service in that way. And tell us a little bit about that foray into into leadership in a little bit different realm, in education, and with air CPA and the importance of accreditation to PA programs.

Unknown Speaker  27:04  
So stuff, if you'll allow me just to step back a moment, when we were talking earlier about leadership, I have not been a person who had been intentional thinking about my career trajectory, and where I wanted to go. And that might not be a good thing. But here, here I am. And, you know, early on, I had an interest in faculty development and sort of just stepped forward to to work in that arena. And I think what happens in leadership is you sort of stepped forward, you do some work. And if people like what you do or enjoy working with you, you get invited back, how I ended up in accreditation, again, was not intentional, saying this is really what I want to do. There was a call for site visitors, and I applied and this was in 2002, I thought that this could be interesting, you know, and it would help me learn about programs and curriculum structure, etc. And I never even thought about being on the Commission. In fact, I was on a flight, I'll do some more namedropping, again, I was on a site visit with Don Morton Rayas. And one of my first couple of site visits and she said, I think you'd be good as a site visit chair and and maybe even think about being a commissioner. Now. That was years ago. And I thought I barely figuring out how this works, you know, but thank you for that for that vote of confidence. So a number of years later, there was a call for commissioners, I think initially, I went through another nominating organization and wasn't selected. But I decided to throw my hat in again, and and was selected and served two terms. At that point, you know, that's usually term of service as a three year term. And then you can be renewed for another three, and then you're done. Came off the commission and continued to be a site visitor. And it's sort of interesting how I ended up back. And that is I had realized that site visits were, you know, very time consuming. And I wanted to dedicate time to the to my program. And I also had concerns about whether I was engaged enough or doing a good enough job. And so I was reaching out to Sharon Luke, who at that point, had become the executive director and said to Sharon, you know, I'm really thinking of no longer becoming a site visitor. And she said, That's interesting, because I was calling to invite you to come back on the commission.

Unknown Speaker  29:29  
Oh, you know, there are commissioner at large positions as the work of the Commission expands, former commissioners can be invited back. And I said, Well, you know, Sharon, I'm really concerned about whether I'm doing an appropriate job for the aarC and for the programs, right. I feel very responsible for the work. And she said, I can tell you, you know, I review the work that is done and I wouldn't invite you if I didn't think you did a good job. I was very pleased and came back to serve. Again. That was the A term that started a few years ago, never even thought about becoming chair it was not ever in my thought, or idea or plan. And then a vice chair position opened up because one of the vice chairs became a staff member. So I decided to run for vice chair. And then that led to running for chair, I had no idea when my term started in January 2020, what was about to unfold for programs across the country. So managing, you know, my own program in the pandemic and the suspension of clinical rotations. And then working with the executive committee and the Commission in unchartered territory that we had not experienced before, was extremely stressful. And yet recognize that there is such an importance to help programs to give some guidance. And so, so that's how I ended up where I am not intentional, that sort of just happened, which sort of is the way thing sort of happened in my career, I never set out to be program director or department chair. But I thought, okay, you know, maybe I'll throw my hat in the ring and see what happens. So you know, my term as accreditation chair will come to an end this year, and then I'll have a year of immediate past chair. But we've, we've learned so much about, I've learned so much about the commission and education, but also quite a bit about about leadership. But I also take very seriously representing the FRC, let's face it, nobody loves accreditation, nobody loves to have site visits, right, I think we can say that it's rare that someone does. But for the most part, after going through it, and our own self assessment process, we've learned something. And I think it's important because our particular process is a peer process, that it's important for programs to feel that they're that they're cared about, and they're supported. But there are standards, let's face it, and that I think is important to talk about is sometimes some of the misunderstandings about accreditation, that this is really about protecting the public, which includes our students, and making sure that the program meets standards, so that they can practice effectively, and, you know, ensure that the program they signed up for is and the curriculum that they're expecting is what they're getting. And it can be hard. There are many challenges for faculty members to sort of choose a phrase jumped through the hoops of accreditation. Now many of us started and think I'm going to take a faculty job, and I'm going to teach, but then realize the increasing demands on assessment, and scholarship. And so faculty expectations have changed, I think dramatically over the years. And of course, it depends on your institution. But helping individuals recognize as a faculty member, all of them demands that are placed on us, both in terms of curriculum development, and assessment, and scholarship and service and all of those things to to reflect on what we're doing and ensure we continue to provide a high quality product.

Unknown Speaker  32:58  
For the benefit of our listeners who might be pre PA students, I know sometimes, there's a little bit of confusion for them around the different types of accreditation. So and the comments that I read some times in different social media forums is that maybe there's a little bit of confusion between provisional and probational. Because they seem a little while very different. They seem mixing they couldn't seem similar. So could you just briefly touch on the different types of accreditation, so that that's clear for pre PA

Unknown Speaker  33:29  
students? Absolutely, absolutely. You know, the pathway for accreditation starts with an applicant program. And the program go through the process of applying, getting on an agenda, the first step is being awarded provisional accreditation, which is a type of accreditation, and the process is pretty is pretty structured, that your program has awarded provisional before a class matriculates and, and so that is it happens a class matriculates. And then there's a monitoring provisional visit, and a final provisional visit, right. So three of those within a couple of years talk about, you know, stress for programs. And certainly the plan is is one thing, but then when you're having to engage in your plan, while you'll have students in in session adds a whole nother layer of complexity. And so it's important for students to understand that provisional is a type of accreditation. And that's, you know, any program has to go through that before being awarded continuing. A number of years ago, the accreditation process changed where maximum accreditation years were seven years has now increased to 10. But of course, based on how program is performing, there couldn't be a shorter period of time. So both provisional and continuing are types of accreditation. When a program is unable to demonstrate compliance with the standards, there's a classification called probation. And that's the Find for a certain period of time. And then the program will have a visit and or reports within X number of years to then demonstrate that they're in compliance and then have probation removed. And so probation also is an accredited program. If we go back to something I mentioned earlier about protecting the public, including students, and part of the mission is also ensuring educational excellence. But there are some newer requirements that many of us are used to and one is posting your accreditation history on your website, as provided by the aarC in an effort to disclose to your potential applicants, you know, the accreditation history, so individuals are aware. And I think that has been something that that may be helpful for programs, it doesn't preclude a program from from explaining some of those actions or decisions. That that the other day a question came up in my own class about something the student had read on the accreditation history. First of all, I was impressed that one of the students actually read it, but it provided an opportunity to discuss it. So some of these initiatives the NRC is taking in terms of accreditation, history, student attrition, and of course, pants pass rates are very important for students to understand or have some idea of what they can expect. We were initially required to report only our first time pass rate, but felt it was important for students to also know what the ultimate pass rate is, because there may be times where students will stress and anxiety and the first time might not pass but eventually they do. So it gives a more complete picture, which is which is the goal.

Unknown Speaker  36:37  
Matt, before we go, I'd love for you to share your vision for the future of Rutgers. There's so many different things going on in the PA profession these days. How are those external factors with the academy and others impacting if anyway, your program and the way you see Rutgers moving in the future?

Unknown Speaker  36:58  
Great question, Kevin. And that the Rutgers has, as an institution has gone through transformation. When I started as a PA, faculty member, you know, none of us really thought about promotion and tenure, necessarily, because we came and we did our jobs. And then we knew as long as we continue to work well, we would remain as our institution has grown, we have a new chancellor, the expectations of faculty have changed. And so one of the requirements is that all of our faculty hold doctoral degrees, we're fortunate to have a school where that is actually supported financially by our dean. And it's a little bit of a change from where we were in the past. And it's not only the pursuit of doctoral degrees, but it's really a move to increase the scholarly output, not solely for the sake of the scholarly output, but for what that expertise brings to our education and our profession. And so we've every new faculty member that is now hired, knows that within X number of years, they have to earn their doctoral degree to achieve assistant professorship rank. And when this went into effect a number of years ago, we had some faculty who who left because it really did not fit with their own personal or career aspirations. So that is a difference from what we had in the past. And I, as someone who has watched this happen, for both myself and colleagues, I really appreciate the experience and the education that our faculty received and how that translates into the education that we provide. You know, it's not just simply about having the title, it's really about what the educational experience brings to you as a faculty member uniquely. So that is one thing that happened is as well as sort of the scholarly output. We happen to be housed in a School of Health Professions, which is, I think, the largest if not one of the largest health professions schools in the nation, with over 40 Something programs. And we are fortunate in that this increased expectation for scholarship has also brought many of our departments together, working on research projects, I happen to be involved in one currently with our psychosocial rehab department. And the goal is to talk about experiences of patients with serious mental illness, and how physician assistants can interact with them in a way that provides better outcomes because we all know that folks with serious mental illness tend to die younger than most individuals because of not accessing health care. So this grant was about doing a qualitative study talking with folks with serious mental illness and also interviewing PA students in terms of what their concerns or fears were. And we've done all of that work and we're about to this Friday, have an educational session. We will bring the groups together and talk about ways to interact that will provide some better outcomes. So I give us an example of, of the type of opportunities we're able to engage in. Because of our school, we happen to also be on the same building as our psychosocial rehab departments, but with physical therapy, nutrition, various health informatics programs. And so that provides us with opportunities that are really beneficial to our students.

Unknown Speaker  40:25  
But terms of the future, you know, we we went through a revision of our didactic curriculum very recently, and we're in the process of going through a revision with our clinical curriculum. And those are things that typically will happen, right, we all go through these cycles, where we're going in the future is sort of something where monitoring monitoring the profession, right, certainly, there are ongoing discussions about entry level doctoral degrees for PhDs. And so having a faculty with doctoral degrees will allow us should that ever be a an expectation that we could develop that type of program? But that's, you know, that's just one thing. You know, I think our mission will always be to ensure we educate physician assistants who can get into the workforce and provide care and make sure we're doing that based on current practices. So as a department, we have a number of things that we're thinking about now that I've been appointed chair, one of my goals is to grow, but to think about what are some programs that could grow within the department and we're potentially going to explore some postgrad residencies, our own health care system is looking to partner in a more meaningful way to develop their workforce needs. And we did have a faculty practice at one point for neurosurgery and orthopedic PDAs, which was an interesting experiment, didn't quite turn out the way we had planned, but we learned a lot from it. And so we now are in, you're going to start engaging in some of those conversations, whether we do a post grad doctoral program is sort of a discussion to be had. But you know, right now, near term over the next year, for us, it's really making sure that we ensure up our program, that we have continued to faculty in positions where they're comfortable, and no expectations are aware of what the expectations are. And my job, I think, as chair is to make sure people have the resources they need to excel, and meet all the expectations of scholarship service and teaching. You know, we have we have plans to potentially expand our HOPE Clinic is currently only for PA students. But there's a strong desire to discuss how we could have other health professions students participate in that, you know, our PT program has its own clinic, we have a speech language pathology program has its own clinic, and we can refer to each other. But the more we can do interdisciplinary, I think is also going to be something that will contribute to student success and ultimately impact patients. So nothing else to major on the horizon. At this word, as I said, it's really going to be sitting back, watching the PA landscape, and making sure we're positioned well to meet whatever expectations are placed upon us.

Unknown Speaker  43:11  
Yeah, I think I think all of us are anxiously watching where it ends up. So

Unknown Speaker  43:16  
well. Matt, thank you so much for spending some time with us today. We have really enjoyed your insights and to hearing a little bit more about accreditation, and about Rutgers University. Thanks for being with us today.

Unknown Speaker  43:26  
Thank you both. I really admire the work that you're doing, not only in education, but specifically with this podcast. Now providing others with an opportunity to give out accurate information and hearing directly from sources. So thank you both, and I look forward to continuing to listen to your podcasts.

Unknown Speaker  43:47  
We'd like to thank our guests, Mr. Maverick Boland, for joining us today and enlightening us about Rutgers University accreditation and the really interesting conversation we had related to medical humanities. It is clear that Rutgers has a really impressive program a very thoughtful approach to the curriculum to community service and the legacy of really great leaders. Tune in next week as we speak with Miss Graceland Dell from Toro University in Vallejo, California. We talked to Grace about her strong history of service to the profession. Her work in Alaska and Washington State prior to joining California, and her history of leadership to a wide variety of different aspects in PA profession, including diversity. Until next time, I wish you success with whatever path you are walking in life. And thank you for joining us. The purpose of this podcast is to provide news and information on the PA profession and is for informational purposes only. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and guests and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policy of the University of Southern California.

 

Matthew McQuillan, MS, PA-C Profile Photo

Matthew McQuillan, MS, PA-C

Matthew McQuillan, MS, PA-C, DFAAPA is a nationally certified PA who currently serves a Program Director of the Physician Assistant Program and Chair of the Department of PA Studies and Practice. He joined the faculty in 1998 and is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Health Professions.

Matt has served on numerous committees and councils for the PA profession at the state and national level. He currently serves as Chair of the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) for which he has served several terms as a Commissioner and Site Visitor. For the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) Matt has served on various faculty development committees, which is a particular area of interest. He is a Past President of the NJ State Society of Physician Assistants and has worked to advance the PA profession through various legislative initiatives.
He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of PAs and a recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from the School of Health Professions.

His clinical work as a PA includes a number of positions including cardiothoracic surgery, family/urgent care medicine, and occupational medicine. His current clinical work involves supervising Rutgers PA students at a student/faculty run HOPE clinic in the Plainfield area.

Matt earned his BS in Communication Arts with a minor in Business Administration from St John’s University in New York and both his BS and MS from Rutgers. He is currently completing a doctorate in medical humanities from Drew University in Madison, NJ.