Expert Insights from Program Leaders
November 22, 2021
Season 1: Episode 21: University of Colorado - Jonathan Bowser, MS, PA-C

We speak with Mr. Jonathan Bowser, Associate Dean and Program Director for the University of Colorado Child Health Associate Physician Assistant Program. Jon, Stephanie, and I speak about his path to the profession, his long-standing program, and his tho...

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We speak with Mr. Jonathan Bowser, Associate Dean and Program Director for the University of Colorado Child Health Associate Physician Assistant Program. Jon, Stephanie, and I speak about his path to the profession, his long-standing program, and his thoughts about the future of the profession. We also discuss the pros and cons for a pre-PA entrance examination and chat about Jon's experiences leading the Physician Assistant Education Association.

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.


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  
personally and from the perspective of my program, we eliminated the GRE a few years ago for the same reasons that we are not very interested in in a pre pa you know, kind of exam something like that.

Unknown Speaker  0:38  
Will Hello and thank you again for joining us. I'm your host, Kevin low Henry. And we're excited to bring back our partner Stephanie Vander Mulan to interview Mr. Jonathan Bowser. John is the Associate Dean and program director of the Child Health associate PA program at the University of Colorado. He is also a director at large on the physician assistant Education Association Board of Directors and a past president of that organization. We talked with John about his path to PA his program and his experiences as a national leader during the pandemic. We also talked about his thoughts on the future of our profession. And Stephen, John shared their thoughts on the pros and cons of a PA admissions examination for the profession, from both their roles as program directors, and from their work on the PA President's Commission. As always, you can learn more about our guests on our website, under the blog section for show notes. And a transcript of our discussion is published for you at well, at pa path Well, John, thank you so much for joining us today, Steph and I are so excited to talk to you about your career, your path to becoming a PA and your prestigious program, the University of Colorado, the child health associate program, but let's start first with you tell us about your personal path to becoming a PA.

Unknown Speaker  1:53  
Sure. Thanks. And thanks so much for having me, Kevin. And step I really appreciate being here. And I've listened to a number of these episodes. And I feel like I'm in some amazing company. So hopefully, we'll get to talk about some of those folks as we move forward. So my path was, I think, kind of, sort of the traditional path for my cohort of PhDs. And it's very different now with these younger, newer PhDs. But I was a second career guy by had done work in benchtop research, some spent a couple years in the biotech industry had really been exploring science, you know, and I was a chemist for a while I was an undergrad chemistry major, I think my my MO is just to stay curious and keep exploring things. And I got to a place where I thought, I'm going to probably spend the rest of my life tied to this bench, you know, we call ourselves bench jockeys. And we, we are self smashers, you know, doing all this benchtop work. And I thought, I don't know that I want to do this for the rest of my life, I want to find a little more meaning and human interaction and and something that that drives not just my curiosity, but kind of the core of my values. And so I started to look around, and I looked at the PT profession, I looked at the MD profession, and a friend of mine who's a PT said, I think you you really like the PA profession. And this is a true story. I thought, I think I had some sort of reply, like, I'm not really that into accounting. Because I did, I had honestly not heard of the PA profession, I thought he was referring to CPAs, like Certified Public Accountants. So I didn't really know anything about it. And so I got online and looked around a little bit and online was not much of a thing back then. So it's kind of hard to gather information. But I found some information on our program, and in Colorado was living in Colorado at the time. And it's that classic story. I think others have talked about it on this podcast and in hear it all the time. But I the more I looked into it, the more I realized this is this is such a nice match for me. And I don't you know, I was daunted by the idea of all those years and expensive medical school. But I thought I could get the things I wanted to to get out of this career, I could find that fulfillment in a much shorter and less expensive route. And then I applied to the University of Colorado. And the rest, as they say is history.

Unknown Speaker  4:31  
John, tell us a little bit about you know, when you're speaking with applicants to your program, what are what are some of the most valuable tips that you provide to those applicants to help them along the way?

Unknown Speaker  4:44  
Yeah, great question. We get a lot of those questions obviously. And our program is a little different than than other programs. I think the reality is many pa pa programs have their own flavor and so I try to help applicants understand specifically what we're looking for in our program, we are a program that does not require any medical experience at all. So we're a zero hours program. That said, we get most of our apple applicants actually have a lot of background because they're applying to other programs. But I always emphasize that we're focused really on our mission. And so we want you, we want to see that you have some alignment with our mission. And that is, you know, primary care primarily focused on underserved populations, both urban and rural. And, and then the, the other part of that is, even if you don't have an arm, if I can't look at your application and trace an obvious path, through it that says you have you have that alignment, we really want to see folks that are committed to other people, right. And that can take on many forms, we look a lot of volunteer the volunteer experience of our applicants and what they've done in their communities, whether their community is the undergrad institution, whether it's a church community, whether it's the Boys and Girls Club, you know, we don't really discriminate amongst those different kinds of involvements. But the applicant who just dabbles and does, you know, I volunteered here for a couple hours in there for a couple hours. And I tried this out, I think, looks less committed in our eyes to pair with somebody who's really done things in a more sustained way, if that makes sense. And then the other thing that's really important to us, and I think this is a more, this is probably more general to most or all PA programs, is you really need to be able to demonstrate you understand what you're getting yourself into here, right? We it's a committing Road, where a three year program, it's it's a ton of work, you need to know what you're getting into, you need to have some understanding of the profession. So Shadowing is really important. It's hard to shadow in this current era. But even interviewing PA is doing your research, we really want to know that you you've done your homework, and you know what you're getting yourself into, that's important to us.

Unknown Speaker  7:09  
Talk to me a little bit about the virtual shadowing trend that we're starting to see, you know, COVID, I think brought about a number of new technologies and new platforms for things. And so I know, at least in my program, we're starting to see a lot of folks that are submitting applications that have virtual shadowing, thoughts on the virtual shadowing,

Unknown Speaker  7:30  
you know, I feel the pain of these applicants who just can't find shadowing opportunities, particularly in the panda in light of the pandemic and the restrictions there. But even before that, I think it it's become, it's sort of a supply demand issue, right. And there's just are only so many available moments in the lives of these PhDs to take on the potential applicants who want to shadow and, you know, we have many peers in our community who are really committed to that, but it's just they just don't have a ton of bandwidth. They're very, very busy in their clinical lives. So I think the virtual shattering idea is, to me, it's more I align that more with the idea of you know, I encourage our applicants to reach out to PA is to reach out to physicians to reach out to other folks in healthcare settings, and see if they can find some time to you, can I buy your coffee? Can we can we find time to zoom, where I can just ask you some questions and get a feel for, for what it is that you do, or what it is that the pays in your practice to, and that that I would call virtual shadowing in a way, it's not the same as in person shadowing. But I think we also need to be sensitive to the how hard it is. The other part of it is I do think shadowing in some ways, I think Mike derisk talked about this a little bit. Shadowing is is kind of a privilege in some ways, right? You have to be connected to one you have to free time to be able to do it. And you have to be connected to people that have the bandwidth to enable you to shadow. I think that is a privilege in the same way that Mike DeRosa from Samuel Merritt on this podcast, talked about how medical experience, you know, we don't require medical experience in my program. I think getting medical experience, there's some privilege involved in that also. So there may be some good things that come out of this pandemic. You know, we've certainly seen some frustrating things. But I think a lot of programs, for example, have figured out that virtual interviews a while strange to adjust to and uncomfortable in some ways, probably do create a more equitable environment, a more cost effective environment for applicants and there's some real advantage there. But there's a lot to that to that getting the experiences that programs are looking for and it's it's hard for applicants now, more than probably more than ever has been

Unknown Speaker  10:04  
similar John and Steph, I'm going to turn the tables just a little bit because the two of you were both on the President's Commission that looked at a PA entrance exam. And that's another area in our, in our country that people are talking about whether, for example, the GRE exam is being waived by a lot of schools and removed as a barrier related to historical marginalization of communities and educational disadvantages. And we have a PA entrance exam that has entered into our space that some people believe is necessary to identify students that can be successful in PA education. But the President's Commission, which was started by PA EA, at least five or six years ago, took a very strong look at this. And you too, were part of the commission that published a paper on this, do you mind sharing your thoughts on that from your, with your hats on as program directors?

Unknown Speaker  10:56  
Yeah, I'll start that one off stuff. I'm speaking with my program director hat, not my PA hat, I, you know, there's a sort of whole sub context to this, that has to do with the marketing of exams and the, you know, in a free market environment where people can, can certainly market exams in ways that they see fit, personally, and from the perspective of my program, we eliminated the GRE a few years ago, for the same reasons that we are not very interested in a in a pre PA, you know, kind of exam, something like that. And I don't think we're going to go down that path anytime soon. I think we did, we looked at about 10 years of data in our program, and found that the GRE wasn't predictive and didn't actually help us anyway. So that presumption was false to begin with. And then the whole issue of those standardized exams, as a barrier to diversity was an added it's sort of two separate but related issues, the issue of equity and accessibility, but also the issue of debatable predictive capacity for those exams. So that those are my views from from my program.

Unknown Speaker  12:14  
And I would say, speaking from the perspective of that President's Commission paper, you know, we looked into this topic pretty deeply. And what we really found I don't, you know, I don't know that we made a conclusive decision one way or the other. The question, really, of the President's Commission was, do we need does the profession need one? And that was really the the question that we were trying to answer. And I think the answer was, we think it's premature to even be able to say yes, or no, because at the end of the day, the profession collectively has not decided on a standardized or an agreed upon set of skills and knowledge base that matriculants need to have to be successful in a PA program. And so, you know, until you have a conclusive set that all or most programs can determine, this is the knowledge we believe all applicants need to have. So that you kind of I mean, that's the definition of a standardized test, right, is that there's a standard set of knowledge and skills that all programs agree upon, that the applicants need to have to be successful. And that doesn't exist. And so, you know, to date, because we don't have that agreed upon set of competencies or skills that applicants need to have, then it's really impossible to devise any test that that test for those and so, you know, I think that we felt like any exam that may be out there at the moment really can't be judging something that would be judging all applicants across all programs, and the, you know, the prerequisites that programs would feel would be necessary for students. So while a pre a pre pa entrance exam, right now might give you some answers about some set of metrics that, uh, that a test is testing for, are those the metrics that you feel are important for your program and for your matriculants? And, you know, we feel like that's, that's not really a standardized exam until we have some standardized agreement across the profession and across programs. So, you know, that was really kind of the conclusion of the of the President's Commission paper.

Unknown Speaker  14:16  
John, can you talk a little bit more about your program, you have a 33 month long program? What is unique about your program that you'd like to share with applicants as they're considering applying to your school?

Unknown Speaker  14:28  
Sure, yeah. So we're 35 months in length. And we we have a long history. So we were one of the early programs we were founded in 68. took our first class starting in 69. And the the vision for the program was was different, you know, that these early programs, there was Duke and there's MedX. And those programs were largely built around the idea of taking medical corpsman and it was all men at the time. And with a very Deep set of skills and kind of retooling them to enter the workforce than the non the civilian workforce. Henry silver who founded our program had a very different idea. And he a little history here, he and Loretta Ford, a nurse at the University of Colorado started the first nurse practitioner program in the country here at the University of Colorado is a pediatric nurse practitioner program. And the model that they envisioned was that there would be PNP programs and there would be other kinds of programs neonatal and adult and critical care and P programs. And that is how the NP training world has evolved. Dr. Silver's vision was that the PA profession would involve in would evolve in that way also, and that there would be a child health associate program, and an orthopedic associate, or a child health associate profession and orthopedic associate said segment of the profession, and the receiving an OB GYN Associate Program at this institution for a couple of years. And it didn't, it didn't take hold he that that model didn't stick. And so we became a PA program in 1981. Because it just didn't seem like anybody was was going down that path. But we kept our name. So we sort of keep the child health associate name as a historical acknowledgement of that history. We are like all PA programs were a generalist training program. But some of the other things that Henry thought were important one, he thought that he really believed that you didn't need medical experience for this program that we could we were looking for the right people with the right mindset. In the end, we could take that person and mold them into a health professional rather than having someone who needed experience in the health professions. And that was very different from the other two programs that you know that those initial programs at medics in a in a Duke. And so because of that he also felt it was important to have a more extensive training in terms of time. And so our program initially No, we've changed our curriculum completely. But our programming initially and for many years, the first two years were basically the first two years of our medical school. So it was a an entire year of basic science, foundational stuff. And then a second year more clinical applied medicine with clinical experiences sort of sprinkled through. And then the third year was a full clinical year, we've maintained the length of our program and that general approach, but we are, as I mentioned, our curriculum looks very different now. So that's some of the history. So back to your question about what students need to know I think our applicants rather new to no one is this is not a typical program, it's a different field. So you want you need to be interested in being here for three years we have, I think there are people who don't apply to this program simply because they don't want to take three years. And I think that's a very important thing to understand about your yourself. If you're applying to programs. We are a three year program. It's three intense years. The other thing about our program that I think people need to understand is we have that child health associate name, but we're not a pediatric program, per se. We have extra training in pediatrics. Everyone gets an extra pediatric rotation, everyone gets extra didactic work in pediatrics, but the majority of our graduates don't go into pediatrics. Years and years ago they did but that's not true anymore.

Unknown Speaker  18:27  
John, we know that PA school is difficult, regardless of whether you attend a program that's 24 months or program that's 35 months. What do you perceive as some of the toughest challenges that today's PA students face? And what advice do you give to them to help them navigate their pa education?

Unknown Speaker  18:46  
Yeah, it's a great question. I think one of the things that we've been really interested in over the years, is how students manage stress is what student burnout looks like, and, and what we can do structurally in the program to mitigate some of that. And so when we designed this curriculum of ours, we looked at it from a couple of perspectives. We looked at it from learning theory, constructivist learning theory, we're really interested in, in kind of doing it right in that regard. But we also looked at it in terms of burnout, student burnout, and how we could create a curriculum that is perhaps less likely to create student burnout. And in fact, my associate director, Jackie Sivanna, did her doctoral work on student burnout in our program. And we, we also looked at cognitive load theory, which is really, really informs our curricular model. And the idea of cognitive load theory is that, if I'm sure you're familiar with this theory, but the idea is that the essentially, the brain can only work on so much at a given time. And if your brain is full of all sorts of other things, while you're also trying to learn to be a clinician, it overloads you The brain and makes for a very stressful learning environment. And it actually makes for less durable learning, you just can't make those connections and you can't create longer term learning that you can retrieve at a later time. So I think one of the things that our students are challenged with his time management, most of our students are really good time managers. There's, there's just so much on their plate. And then there's also the kind of existential concerns that our students have about, what will the Will my career be like? Will I find a job? It you know, is this clinical rotation that prepare me for the thing I want to do for the rest of my life or things like that. So I think those are some really big stressors. And I think I mean, this is obvious, I think, to everyone, but the pandemic has really created some unique challenges. And it has exacerbated some of those things, but also created brand new concerns. And I'll just mention, one of the things that we really are struggling with right now is our our students ability to feel like they're part of a community, I think that's really been a challenge in the pandemic, and we're finding our students have returned to the classroom. But it persists, it's, it's a way of being that it is hard for us to get out of now. Because you know, as you know, we're sort of one foot in the pandemic and one foot out. And that's a very strange place to be. In, we thought we would jump back into this environment where we're back in the classroom, and everything would just feel normal. And it really doesn't. It's really, it's really difficult. Actually, John, you

Unknown Speaker  21:41  
and Steph actually have been working on some things collaboratively as programs. And so, you know, I've always looking at the way that we do things in education and wonder why we duplicate so many different things. And of course, that goes to the cost of education for every student. Could you talk about your collaborative projects that you've been doing and how that might impact not only your schools, but how other schools could take notice and look for ways to support one another? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  22:06  
I'll jump in first stuff. We've, we've started working together when Creighton was I think, when Creighton was just at the sort of fetal stage of development, because maybe not maybe not quite that early stuff, you can confirm that. But Steph and I have had this long term connection, we've known each other from way back. And as Steph was tasked with creating a new program in the medical school setting, and because of relative geographic proximity, it just seemed to make sense that we should, we had a lot in common, and we should try to work together. And the other part of it is our faculty and their faculty way back in the day, a bunch of their faculty and a bunch of our faculty have had these connections. So there's a lot of comfort there and a lot of just a sort of ease of kind of a communion that we had together. And as we started to see the Creighton program evolved, it seemed like there were some places where we could learn from them, because they were they were in this really dynamic, innovative place, we were undergoing a lot of change with our admissions process our curriculum. So there were a lot of opportunities for us to learn from them. And I think that the flip was true also, I think we were able to help them with their, with their admissions process, for example, and some other things. And it's just been really healthy. And, and I and fun, actually. And I think one of the things that I've talked about for years, you know, in my leadership roles, etc. is PA programs notoriously all reinvent the same wheels in isolation, right? I think it's much more so than some other health professions. And I part of it is because PA programs are all you know, the saying you've seen one PA program, you've seen one PA program, we're all a little different. We all have, some of us are a lot different. We all have our own flavors. But there's also this, there's some other things I think that go that go into that. But we do notoriously reinvent the wheel 100 times over in parallel. And so I think Steph and I have had an interest in trying not to do that, and trying to learn, maybe share, you know, live help each other lift the weight sometimes.

Unknown Speaker  24:15  
And I think to reflect upon that, I think John makes a really good point, John and I both sat as president of PA and so that really allowed us to sit in a space where we saw PA programs across the country. And I think we had a unique view of how folks are recreating the same wheel. And so, as an acknowledgement of that, you know, as as I was tested with my team to start a brand new program, I was fortunate to have a very experienced team. But I also recognize that you know, to have carte blanche and to be able to start a brand new program you build upon the things that you know, but you also shame on me if I didn't reach out to some other extremely experienced programs to say hey, what are you know, what are best practices, what has worked well for you, and to be able to meld those best practices from what my team knew from previous experiences and what his team knows from their experience was, it was it was a privilege. And it was really exciting. And I think I think if this kind of relationship is can be an exemplar for PA programs to really fashion, fashion, collegial and professional relationship with one another, I think you've heard me say it before, but a rising tide floats all boats. And I think if we we work together, we can all be, we can all be better than we should, we should do that in every way we can. Talk a little bit about the future of the profession. And the directions that you see. If you put that crystal ball to work and try to see around the corner for the way the PA profession is headed in the next five to 10 years. Reflect on that a little bit and tell me how your program is thinking about that and trying to proactively prepare for the changes that you see coming down the pike in the PA profession?

Unknown Speaker  25:59  
Yeah, no, it's a it's a really good question. And it's probably it's tempting to say this is one of the more tumultuous times in our history as a profession, because I think you could go back and people from various eras would say the same thing. But it feels you know, being in this profession for over 20 years, it feels like this is a time of immense change. And not all of it is, is completely straightforward. It's pretty, some of it feels pretty daunting. So of course, there's the name change, there is a real push for increased autonomy in the practice space. And that, you know, we see that with OTP optimal team practice, over the past few years name change, there's the issue of a doctoral degree and where that fits in the equation. And one of the things that I think is really helpful, perhaps critical to understand is all of those changes that are being pushed in the practice environment, come back to programs. And that you we have to really try to anticipate where the profession is going, and get ready to prepare people for a different environment, if that's what's needed. And I think peas are heading into, well, we've been heading into a different practice environment for a number of years. One of the things for example, that I've seen is that PDAs are being asked to do more and more right out of the gate, right? So they come out of PA school, and these hospital systems say, Hey, this is a cost effective way to provide critical care access, right? Well, you know, if you have a PA fresh out of school, and you're going to throw them into a complex critical care environment, that may be something programs need to understand, right. And one of the things that as an example of how that's changed is the number of at least in my region, the number of postgraduate programs is just exponentially increasing. And the way it's happening here is very organic. It's one, you know, hospital system, for example, our partner hospital, University of Colorado hospital, they there's a very successful hospitalist postgraduate fellowship, or residency. I mean, those terms are used interchangeably. So one year program, it's excellent. Other departments within the hospital system, see that and go, Oh, well, this looks good. And the the premise of that particular fellowship program is it's a pipeline for employment. It's a way for these hospitals to employ TAs and train and get them up to speed. And so other departments now our other hospitals within our region are creating these fellowship programs. And I think they're variable quality, probably. But it's definitely a trend, I don't see that trend going away. So one of the things to your to your question about what we're doing as a program, one of the things that we have to do is, is tried to create opportunities for our students, we'll try to create sort of the baseline that makes our students flexible and allows our students to be flexible, but there's only so much you can do you I can't create a critical care pa in a PA program. Like that is something that that the profession, my program, any program was never really set up to do. So creating partnerships with our hospitals, creating, you know, we've started to create some tracks with a critical care track, for example, we have some other tracks, we're all in urban and global tracks, but creating tracks that that can sort of connect with the marketplace. The challenge though, for us is our core as a program is primary care is is is all of these things where we see the PA profession in medicine in general going away from so our local hospital systems are closing down some of their or their their system sort of undervaluing I think some of their primary care sites or they're seeing those as referral centers and mostly for the parts of the hospital system that make money right And that that's been a real challenge for us. So on the one hand, we want to prepare our students for the environment, they're going out into it for the market, this there, the job market that's there. But we also feel very passionate about primary care. And, and, you know, that's also a market force that we don't have a lot of influence over. So here we are. John, let's

Unknown Speaker  30:21  
talk a little bit about your national and international work with PAA. and South Africa.

Unknown Speaker  30:27  
Sure, I. So I'm going to start with us with the South Africa partnership. It is a little bit water under the bridge for us that partnership ended for all intents and purposes, in 2014 2015. But it was a it was an interesting experience for us. And again, this this goes back to saying yes to things and being adventurous as an educator and as a program and trying things. So we had that there was a competitive application a number of years ago, I want to say this about 2009 Maybe, and our program needed click in the program director at the time took the lead wrote a really good grant for with a group called the international alliance, the way what is it? I'm going to I'm going to I'm going to botch completely botched the acronym, but it's the IHA. And they're a group out of DC that was looking to do what they call twinning, where they partner programs globally with American programs for some shared learning. And so we were awarded a grant that partnered us with a school in the Eastern Cape of South Africa called Walter Sisulu University. And they were developing the South Africa was developing a new profession called the Clinical Associate profession clinics. And Walter Sisulu University was one of the three institutions that were doing that. So they partnered us with Walter Sisulu. And we had a number of trips, twinning trips where we went there, and they we brought their faculty here to learn it to share experiences to create those partnerships. And it was it was very fruitful and successful that that program is doing well, it got to the point where they were on their way and didn't really, you know, it's sort of wound its way wound wound down in a very natural way. But we we really enjoyed that that ability to work with colleagues in a very different environment with a very different set of challenges. And act in the clinical associate profession is very different, in some important structural ways from the PA profession. And so, it really, the benefits. You know, honestly, we, when we went into that partnership, we thought, I think that we would It would really be a more unidirectional exchange of learning that we would be helping them, but we really learned a lot from them as well. So it's a really nice partnership. The other part of your question was about national involvement. And this is another thing where I if I'm sounding like a broken record, I guess I am, but I, I really feel like saying yes to stuff and being adventurous, is a part of my credo. It's how I live. And I encourage faculty at every level to get involved with national leadership with local leadership, but leadership within institution in the program. And I had that same encouragement from my program director from the Nita Glick, when she said, you know, you should volunteer for something just apply to PA get on a committee. So I got on a committee, I got on another committee, I decided to run for the board, because I just saw what the the board was doing. In fact, Kevin Lowe, Henry was on the board at the time when I was being inspired. Steph, I think you were just coming on the board. And I just thought what a what a phenomenal group of people and what a great Association and I want to I want to be involved with this and really get to know that the national landscape and really hopefully influence the profession in some kind of positive way. And so I did all of those things. And it just one thing led to another, and I ended up on the board ended up serving as the president of PA. And it was it was really everything I hoped it would be in more I really developed a community of leaders nationally that I'm still very close with, I learned so much from them. They are my mentor group in so many ways. They're also my psychological counseling group, I think at times and we really, you know, Steph, you and I talk a fair amount. And I those are all relationships that came from me jumping into leadership, and I didn't see myself as a leader at all. You know, I know Kevin, on this podcast, you talked with a number of people about leadership and what it means to lead. I listened to that the recent relatively recent interview had the Stanford crew, what a great group and and they talked about leadership and this idea is much broader version of leadership is really important to me. I didn't see myself as a leader, a PA is where I came to identify myself as a leader and I really remember really appreciate that.

Unknown Speaker  35:02  
John, when you look back to GPA work, what are you most proud of?

Unknown Speaker  35:05  
You know? I? I? Boy, that's a great question. So I think one of the things I'm actually really proud of there's there are a number of things I'm proud of. But one of the things I'm most proud of is the year that I was president a PA, the Association had an immense transition. So we had a CEO who was a 27 year leader of PA, he and the first the inaugural leader of PA Timmy Barwick, and she was stepping down, and that is talking about enormous shoes to fill. And it's a drawing that happened to fall in the year of my presidency. And I got to work with a very talented interim director in in Sarah Fletcher, and really got to oversee this the search and be involved with the search for her replacement and the transition of PA from a former era to a new era. And that was a very challenging year and very, but also very rewarding year in a year where I feel like I learned a lot about myself and grew a lot. So I think that's one of the things I feel really proud of is being able to sort of steward that transition.

Unknown Speaker  36:11  
Well, John, as we near the end of our time together, is there anything else that you hope to share with us that we we haven't discussed today?

Unknown Speaker  36:20  
I don't, you know, I don't know that there's any, anything in particular, the the one thing I will say is, I give me an opportunity to talk about my curriculum, and my faculty, and I'll go on and on and on and on. We have this new curriculum, not new anymore for years, and we've been very excited about it, it's very different. And we've been having a lot of fun with it. And by fun, I mean, it's been intensely stressful and a ton of work. And my faculty constantly, total sign of burnout and frustration. And, and, you know, superimposed on that was the pandemic, you know, we're sort of just getting to the point where we feel like, we're able to be successful, and then the pandemic strikes, and it creates all of that stress and tension and the inability for us to be together physically. And so there's, it's just been a very stressful time. But we're really proud of what we're doing. And I you know, I have already talked about the curriculum a little bit, so I don't need to go on and on about that.

Unknown Speaker  37:20  
If you could go back in time, John, knowing what you know, now, would you have held off on that curriculum change given the pandemic coming? Or

Unknown Speaker  37:27  
no, I don't think I would have wanted to forestall it by a year, our medical school, it launched a new curriculum this year 2021 2022 academic year, their their experience has been daunting, to say the least because of all the challenges around the pandemic. So I think we sort of squeezed it in there before the pandemic really hit we had it was launched and fully functional a year before the pandemic hit. So that was a relief. I don't think I would do anything differently. i It's the classic thing, though, like we you know, looking back, we it was a ton of work. It was an incredible transition. It was it was hard. We had faculty who left just didn't want to be a part of that. And it was tough on them. And but looking back, I feel why didn't we do this five years earlier? Like, it's just something we should have done, we needed to do when we finally did it, it was all the pain and agony that we thought it would be. But it's really, it's really transformed the program in positive ways.

Unknown Speaker  38:30  
Well, John, thank you so much. On behalf of Kevin and I in the PA path, podcast, I know you to be someone of boundless energy. And for all the time that I've known you, that energy has been focused on the betterment of the of the PPA profession and of your programs. So congratulations on the success of your program so far. And I look forward to continued success of your program, as well as watching your leadership journey and where that takes you in the future. So thanks for being with us today.

Unknown Speaker  38:59  
Thanks so much for having me. It's just a pleasure to talk to you too. i You both are friends of mine and colleagues, but also mentors, people I really look up to so it's been a privilege.

Unknown Speaker  39:11  
Well, we'd like to thank our guest, Mr. Jonathan Boser, for joining us from the University of Colorado. John gave us some great insights into his program, his path to becoming a PA and some of the challenges that our profession is currently facing. Tune in next week as we speak with Dr. Carolyn Bradley Guidry, who's the Assistant Dean for diversity, inclusion and equity affairs for the School of Health Professions at the UT Southwestern Medical Center. We speak with Dr. Bradley Guidry about her path to becoming a PA about the issues of diversity, equity inclusion in our profession, and about the UT Southwestern PA program. Until next time, we 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 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.


Stephane VanderMeulen, MA, MPAS, PA-CProfile Photo

Stephane VanderMeulen, MA, MPAS, PA-C

Department Chair and Director

Stephane VanderMeulen MA, MPAS, PA-C is Chair of the Department of Health Professions and Program Director of the PA program at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska. Ms. VanderMeulen is a 1994 graduate of the University of Nebraska Medical Center PA program and she also holds a Master of Social Gerontology from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Stephane practiced clinically in the fields of rural family medicine and orthopedics/sports medicine before beginning her career in PA education in 2005. She is an active advocate for PAs in education and practice and has served in professional organizations at both the state and national level. Ms. VanderMeulen served on the board of directors of the Physician Assistant Education Association for seven years, with two terms as Director at Large before being elected President in 2015. She is dedicated to the professional development of PAs in education and remains active as a mentor for PA educators.

Jonathan Bowser, MS, PA-CProfile Photo

Jonathan Bowser, MS, PA-C

Associate Dean and Program Director

Jonathan Bowser is Associate Dean and Program Director of the Child Health Associate Physician Assistant Program at the University of Colorado. He received bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Chemistry from Clark University in 1987 and a master’s in Cell and Molecular Biology from Colorado State University in 1997. He graduated from the University of Colorado Physician Assistant Program in 2001.

Mr. Bowser’s scholarly interests are in the areas of testing and assessment and he has been involved with national efforts to promote oral health in primary care. He currently serves as Director-at-Large on the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) Board of Directors. Mr. Bowser has facilitated numerous national workshops and delivered presentations on topics ranging from oral health to simulation and global projects. In addition, he has been the recipient of several grants, including the NCCPA Foundation Research Grant focused on advancing oral health initiatives, the Health Resources Services Administration Bureau of Health Professional’s Grant for curriculum development, and the American International Health Alliance Grant whose aim was to increase the number of mid-level medical professionals in South Africa.