One of my favorite resources for reflecting on leadership is the journal Leader to Leader. Edited by Francis Hesselbein and with contributions from a wide variety of industry leaders and scholars, this resource provides a variety of leadership considerations for leaders, educators, and students to consider. The most recent edition includes a perspective on the future of leadership and our obligation to support the development of the next generation of leaders.
The author shares exciting news about how the next generation of leaders is already on it, diving into a wide variety of challenges around the world. She further states that the diversity of our future leaders will provide a much-needed boost to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts around the world. Interestingly, the next generation is not interested in a continuation of the systemic racism that has plagued our world, which should bring us all hope. They are the generation that grew up with technology from birth and they see the pros of social media for change. Finally, they are wanting to jump into the fray now rather than watch and wait so educators, health system leaders, and political leaders should be preparing to make that happen so we can have a strong diversity of perspectives at the table for change(1).
As PA educators, we can support this growth by encouraging leadership, advocacy, and activism. Developing an advocacy program as an adjunct tool to PA education is an excellent way to build on the skills needed to practice medicine in the 21st century. Pediatric residencies have required training in advocacy since 2013(2) and PA educators could use a similar model to provide a leadership outlet for PA students to build their leadership skills while practicing a clinically important skills – educating leaders about disease states or public health. The Primary Care Physician Assistant Program at USC has conducted an advocacy trip annually for the past decade and recently experienced a more collaborative experience with students from the University of Colorado, Mercer College, and Stanford University and in every trip the students enter the U.S. Capitol with fear and trepidation and leave it feeling empowered to teach our elected leaders about the profession and their patients and community challenges. This is but one example of that outlet but there are surely others that program leaders utilize to model leadership. Student run clinics, street medicine or homeless shelter work, food banks, and many other outlets can provide the avenue for this energy to be put to good use while the students navigate PA education. We hope you read this and provide more examples from your institutions as you comment on this article review.
- Santucci JM. The future is here: Appreciating and developing the next generation of leaders. Leader to Leader. 2021;100:6-9.
- Lichtenstein C, Hoffman BD, Moon RY. How do US pediatric residency programs teach and evaluate community pediatrics and advocacy training? Cara Lichtenstein, Benjamin D. Hoffman, Rachel Y. Moon, Academic Pediatrics. 2017:17(5):544-549.