Expert Insights from Program Leaders
December 24, 2021
Season 1: Episode 26: Reflections

Stephane and Kevin take time to look back at the first season including the who, what, where, when, and why that was shared in episode 1. They review the themes that came up along with a sneak preview of Season 2.

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Stephane and Kevin take time to look back at the first season including the who, what, where, when, and why that was shared in episode 1. They review the themes that came up along with a sneak preview of Season 2.

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.


Episode 26: Reflections

Fri, 12/24 8:44AM • 27:44


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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. Well, hello, and thank you for joining us for our 26th and final episode of season one, Steph and I are very excited to share our insights and reflections from the past season, and talk about some of the themes that arose from our conversations with all of our esteemed guests from around the United States. In addition, we're going to share some plans for season two, and some updated news related to my future employment. Exciting stuff. So stick around, check us out on our website at pa path You can learn more about our bios there and all of our guests. You can read all the transcripts from the previous episodes in cluding. Today's and you can learn more about the profession through our blog section of the website as well. Thank you so much for joining us and enjoy our final session of 2021. Hello, hello. How are you? Hello, one second. I can't hear you can hear me? Yeah.



Hang on. Let me just check my side.



Let's try that. Can you hear me now?



Can you hear me now?



I can. Yes. There we go. Hey, Steph.



Good. How are you? Merry Christmas.



Merry Christmas.



Merry Christmas. Here. It has snuck up on me though. Holy cats was really unprepared. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I had, you know, accreditation this fall, and followed shortly by the graduation of our first cohort. So it's been a little chaotic.



Yeah, yeah. Well, congratulations, Seth. For synchronization outcomes. Phenomenal.



Yeah, I was really happy about that. And then it was just I mean, that graduation of that first class is that was something that was pretty emotional. You don't you don't build something from the ground up and watch that first class walk across the stage without some pretty significant without some pretty significant fields. That's for sure.



I can imagine. Yeah. That's super cool. Well, I'm sure your old team. I saw them on social media. They were all giddy. So yeah. Everybody's excited. Yeah. Well, Steph, we made it. Season One.



That's crazy. Yeah, it was an adventure.



Yeah, totally. I mean, you know, for me, it's the first time I've done a podcast. I think it's the same for you. And you were doing this in the middle of getting your accreditation ready for Creighton's PA school, which was and graduating first class this past season. So that's amazing.



Yep. Lots of exciting stuff going on here.



Yeah, I thought in a reflective episode of the the end of season one, we could just talk a little bit about what got us here in the first place. Share a little bit about some of the perspective that we brought to the audience this year. And maybe at the end, we can share a little bit about what's coming up in this in the next season. Does that sound okay? Absolutely. All right. Well, if you recall, if you had the chance to listen to episode one, I spoke about the who, what, where, when, and why. So I thought we could go over a little bit about that. Obviously, the who, you and I are both passionate PA program directors, we've been past presidents of the physician assistant Education Association, we recognized some challenges in leveling the playing field for applicants, and that there were a lot of expert consultants out there that were providing information to students for a price that didn't necessarily have the same level of expertise that may be some of the people we brought on the podcast had. Does that sound accurate and familiar?



Yeah, absolutely. I think we just really recognize that there was a dearth of information for applicants really from from the horse's mouth from the program's themselves. And so I think this was really an opportunity to allow individuals from the programs to speak and for applicants to hear more about the programs and the people involved in the programs from the people who are actually leaving those programs.



Yeah, I agree. And the who will, let's start with the programs. We had 20 programs that were highlighted in our first 25 episodes. In no particular order other than the first two. We had Creighton in USC. We also had Duke, Iowa, GW Stanford, Oregon Health and Sciences University Quinnipiac University, UT Southwestern University of Colorado, Rosalind Franklin University, Wake Forest, Toro University, Rutgers University, Emory University, Samuel Merritt University, Shenandoah University, Drexel University, Idaho State University, and University of Washington's MedX Northwest In that spread? Yeah, it is. And when I look at the regions, we have decent coverage across all the regions. We had folks from the Northeast, the southeast, the Midwest, the mountain region and the West Coast. Of course, the west coast was a little bit more populated, but that might be because of my bias. So that's my home currently. So but yeah, I think you know, and obviously, you and I've talked about this, we want to be inclusive of more and more and more programs from other regions and other perspectives. And we intend to reach out to more in the coming seasons.



Yeah, I think that there's a lot of opportunity moving forward for us to really embrace, embrace this as a project and reach out to as many programs as we can.



Absolutely. In terms of experts, we had 16 current or former program directors. We had several Dean's or higher level higher education leaders among the group. We had to Eugene stead Jr. Award winners from the American Academy of Physician Assistants, both Ted Ryback, and Paul Lombardo. We had two CEOs of national organizations represent pa with Dr. Mary Jo Bondi from PA and Dr. Don Morton Ryan's from NCCPA. We had two pa Lifetime Achievement Award recipients so at least the last two, they'll call him Dr. Colette from 2020 and Graceland Delfin 2021, we had 12 past presidents of national organizations, including the APA, Pa EA, our accrediting body, the arc PA, and the NCCPA. We had other perspectives like students, faculty, clinical admissions, communication and Sociology from Stanford, that was a great interesting discussion, lots of dei experts. We had social media covered, we talked about the doctorate, and the potential impact of that on the profession, the name change to the Physician Associate, we spoke to the father of Kasbah and we talked a lot about leadership and service. So what were some of the key themes for you that you kind of pulled out of this last year?



You know, the last thing you mentioned was service. And it was really, to me, I was struck by the thread of service that really wound its way throughout every episode that that we had, and almost to a person, every individual that we interviewed, has a long track record of demonstrated service. And so I mean, I think that's reflective of what I know of our profession, that you know, Pa is really go into this profession, because they they truly love people and believe in people even supporting community and supporting those in need. And so I think that I think that you not only saw the demonstrated track record of service in the individuals that we interviewed, but it was also when we asked programs, you know, what are you looking for in an applicant, again, almost without fail, everyone said, we want to, we want to see people who have been involved in service. And I think that's an element of an application that maybe applicants don't appreciate how important that is, I think that maybe it's not recognized how strongly programs prefer someone who has a demonstrated track record of service, because I think if you are a person who has dedicated your time and yourself to service, I think that really says a lot about who you are as an applicant, and that you do have that characteristic and that quality that I think you joins SSPA is and as health care providers that you that you truly care about humanity and want to help others.



Yeah, I think in the last year and a half, two years, that's never been more evident with the significant sacrifice of our peers and colleagues that are out there caring for those dealing with COVID. So maybe we are altruistically hoping that we can produce the next generation of healthcare providers that have that selflessness about them.



Yeah, absolutely. COVID has it as text us all and and no one. Well, I mean, it's text, really every sector of society, but I think the the healthcare sector has has really felt this in in the most impactful way. And and I think unless you really are in this for altruistic reasons. That's it's a tough it's, it's a tough road to hoe if you're if you're not in for the right reasons.



Yeah. Yeah, I think it's a really interesting point, because so often, I would guess that most applicants think about GPA first, and think about clinical hours second, and think about their their personal statement. Third, yeah. And service is way down there yet, from what you're saying. And I agree with you completely. The the clear message through all these, the thread throughout these programs was how important service was to them.



Yeah, I can speak for my program. It's pretty highly, it's pretty highly valued and our admissions process and our selection process, and I think we heard that from a lot of programs. So



yeah, I also think there's a really good part about that, which is that applicants who actually spend time in serving others, I think it helps them develop skills that are going to be beneficial to them in getting through PA school and also after they graduate. So it's It's not a waste of time, it actually opens your mind to the perspectives of others who are suffering.



Yeah, another thing that I, you know, I mean, kind of to that point, if you're an applicant listening, and you're thinking, Okay, well, I need to get a lot of service, I think, while any service, of course, is is valued, and as important, I think I heard multiple people say, and I know that this is true of my program, that we're also looking for folks that seem to have kind of a more of just a more of a dedication to service and, you know, kind of a commitment to cause I would say, you know, so looking for folks that have been involved in, you know, maybe different organizations, but all with a theme, like maybe you're interested in children, or maybe you're interested in helping folks that are experiencing homelessness, you know, so I think, if there's sort of a theme there, or if there's just one organization that you've consistently been involved with over a period of time, I think that, you know, that that is, that is that maybe speaks a little more loudly than, you know, kind of doing one offs here or there, you know, four hours here, two hours there. Well, of course, all that's important is valued, and its service. And service is important in all of its forms. But I think if you're early in your journey, and you're thinking about, Okay, well, how do I establish a record of service? You know, think about what's important to you, what, you know, where's, uh, where is a an area that I feel I need to help? And where is an area that I really feel compelled and called to focus my time and efforts and pick, pick an organization that speaks to you speaks to your heart and, and really get involved in that over a longer period of time?



Yeah, you've struck me with something you just said, which is you talked about those experiencing homelessness, I think that the other benefit of doing service is that you are working with people that have dedicated their lives to the communities that they're serving. And there is a language difference that you see with people that actually experienced this, versus people that talk about it. And so I'll often hear applicants say, Well, I want to serve the homeless. And we often see, yes, that's accurate. But that can also be somewhat less sensitive than saying those who are experiencing homelessness, because from the Social Work community, I would say those who are experiencing homelessness provides this hope that there is an out, or as if you categorize somebody is just homeless, those are the homeless, where we suffer with these people with homelessness. It's so insensitive, and doesn't really provide the same level of hope that many that are actively serving, the patients in this community are our neighbors and friends who experience homelessness every day, actually see and experience. So I think language matters and being actively involved in service helps.



Yeah, absolutely. words do matter, they matter a great deal. And that's something that we constantly are helping our students understand, you know, some of the challenges that that different populations of different individuals face, and how you know, sometimes even though even the words that we use and in the way that we interact with people can make a big difference in the way that they perceive us and the relationships that we can build. And, you know, people's openness to even wanting assistance and to be helped.



Yeah, one other interesting point that I, as I was listening back to some of the episodes for this one, Dr. Body talked about Dukes duty of service, and how even precepting students is a duty of service. And so she she kind of set that tone that the profession is really based upon that. I mean, Duke was the original school. And so I suspect that that thread plays a role just because that was the culture of Duke many, many years ago.



Yeah, absolutely. I think I think that's something that we tend to instill in students, you know, whether that's an overt part of the curriculum, or, you know, when you look at, again, you look at the track record of service of all the faculty, I think that students can't help but look at their faculty members who are involved in all these incredible projects, and, you know, service projects and initiatives and opportunities that are available to them through their universities, and they can't help but understand that, you know, giving back is an important piece, and I think programs both intentionally, but I think unintentionally and sort of as a, you know, a positive hidden curriculum. You know, there's some of that leading by example that occurs at the program level. Yeah.



Was there anything else that surprised you from the season? That was the theme that may have arisen from all the discussions?



I don't know that there was I don't know that there were big surprises. You know, I think one of the another theme that we saw very strongly, and I think you mentioned this was issues around diversity, equity inclusion, I think that we really heard a resounding voice, saying that this is something that we cannot ignore, it is something that every program has a responsibility to think about this and what their role is in diversifying our profession and trading. Developing PA is to have a better understanding of the issues surrounding diversity, equity inclusion and how they can have an impact on those issues. You know, not only as students but as they enter into the workforce.



Yeah, I agree. I was very pleasing to hear everybody in line with that, and that everybody is really working on those issues. Some have been working on longer. We heard from some diversity experts at UT, southwestern medics, northwest, Duke University and others, but, but ultimately, everybody that's out is on the train moving in the right direction that sounds like which is really great.



Yeah, absolutely. How about you? What were some of the themes that you heard?



You know, I would say the things we've talked about, I think I was really pleased to talk to Jeff Butler, Dr. Butler, from Stanford, related to medical sociology, because I've always felt, there's something different about us. And so often as a PA in the community, people would ask me early in my career, why are you going on to medical school? And the answer was always no, I, this is my career, this is my profession. And I was really excited to hear her talk about her own observations, from her expertise as a sociologist, in how we really are different, there is something different about us. And I personally think I was it confirmed for me, after listening to all of our guests, that we have a significant role to play in the healthcare team, and I don't think different is a bad thing. I think it's actually a good thing. It provides a different perspective to the team when caring for patients. So it's not a threat. It's a bonus.



Yeah, and you know, that that raises the question of, you know, with some of the some of the directions that it appears that our profession is heading, you know, is there some threat? Is there some threat if we are jeopardizing some of the relationships that we have among our peers? Is there potential for fallout from that for our profession?



Absolutely. And to our peers who might be leaning towards wanting more autonomous practice? You know, it's clear to me that that's not what our sociology has been, it doesn't mean that we can't train to the top of our license and be, you know, have a significant level of autonomy, particularly as we've gained experience, but that's not what the PA programs have been designed for. Yeah.



And I think, you know, to the extent that we alienate and damage our relationship with physicians, which has been an incredibly important relationship for us individually, and us as a profession, since this professions inception, I mean, that that is the relationship upon which this profession was built, was the physician pa relationship. And so I do I maintain concerns about initiatives that may that may threaten that relationship, because I think it's an important one, I think, again, you know, not at the expense of PA is not being able to continue to operate at the top of our training and demonstrate the autonomy that that we can within the within the scope of our practice. Absolutely, I am all for that. But I also think we have to be incredibly careful about the relationships that we have with our physician colleagues.



I agree, I agree, I have had such wonderful relationships with physicians, both as an academic and also as a clinician, and I can't imagine life without them. I do think from if you're a physician listening to this podcast, I would just encourage you to continue to advocate for your PA colleagues, and to not be afraid of a title change, that is a national decision that your PA at the local area had very little to do with. And ultimately, what was clear for me in the messaging of Physician Associate was that there is a significant concern among the PDAs, around the United States about respect. And the level of work that we do is is above what would traditionally be known as an assistance level of work. Somebody clearly talked about how assistants in, in every other major profession, are people without a bachelor's degree. And and and it doesn't mean that they're below us or beneath us, but it just doesn't accurately describe what we do in supporting the healthcare team and in solving significant patient problems.



Yeah, I agree, you know, just wanting a title that better reflects what we do doesn't necessarily mean that we are for lack of a better term bigger than our own britches, you know, I think I think it's, it's reasonable for any profession to want a title that is reflective of truly what their what they do, what their skill practice might be.



Definitely. So so we got the who we got the what, obviously, the where we made it all to the United States. Oh, you know, the when we've pretty much covered kind of some of those hot topics that are going on now. And the why, which was originally our motivation was to help applicants get messaging from the leaders of the programs that they're applying to, rather than having to rely on people that maybe aren't actually at the table making decisions about who gets in. So did we accomplish what we want to accomplish?



I think so. I mean, I think we got a really good start on it. I'm excited that this was season one, and I think it was a big jumping off point. You know, you asked me about surprises. And I think one of the surprises was are you know, when we talk about who and who and what I think our original intent was really focused and still remains focused on prepays on pa applicants. And I think we've got a lot of great information that if people want to take the time to hear about programs and hear more about really deepening their knowledge of the profession and how PA is function, and that I think that's still a it's still a major Your objective of this podcast. But honestly, one of the surprises for me is I, I've heard from and I think you have heard from as well, a lot of our colleagues in the PA education world, I think that we've, we've opened some some lines of communication. And I think there's been piqued interest from our PA educator colleagues in this podcast than I maybe anticipated that there would be but it's, for me, it's a it's a happy collateral benefit that we've that we've had from this.



I was looking at the data today, it looks like we should go over 5000 downloads at the end of the season, which is a great, that's a good start for us to hit. Yeah, it's a good start, you know, particularly because this isn't our full time job. We're not getting paid to do this. We do this as a hobby to try to help others. So that's kind of fun. So. So next year, what do you look forward to next year?



Yes, I think we have the opportunity to continue our dialogue around some of the timely topics, I think we have the opportunity to explore the profession a little more deeply, maybe looking at some of the history of the profession, looking at some the way that would the ways similar professions are developing and other countries around the world. And I think continuing to highlight different programs around the country, I think that there are still many, many programs, we've barely scratched the surface of the what 200, maybe some programs that are now currently accredited. So we certainly have a lot of other programs that we can highlight as well.



Absolutely. So for those programs that might be listening or saying, hey, what about us, we are coming, we're going to get there eventually. So keep an eye on for email, because we want to highlight all of you in all the amazing work that you're doing. A couple things I'm looking forward to. So the very first part of the season, which will start on February 14, is going to include interview with Ruth Barwick, who is one of the legends of our profession, she she is one of the early leaders of our profession. And what's really remarkable is as a woman, she kind of broke into this field and took the bull by the horns, if you will, and has really done some amazing things in both education, research. And now international work. So we asked her to talk a little bit about all the things going on internationally with her role with the NCCPA. So we're going to talk to Ruth. And then we're also going to highlight the PA profession in Canada, Ireland, Germany and UK just to kick things off. And hopefully that'll help all of our applicants get a broader perspective of the PA profession globally. There certainly many, many, many other countries to cover, but we thought we'd get it start there before we kind of head back into some of our more traditional lines of questions.



Yeah, and I think we're open to open to feedback, we're open to suggestions. You know, are there things that you want to hear more about? I think both Kevin and I are really open to allowing this this podcast to kind of evolve as as our listeners really want to hear different things. So I think we'd be certainly open to you're open to your feedback as well.



Absolutely, just send us an email at pa path And we will be happy to hear from you actually, it'd be really wonderful. The other thing I want to share with the audience is that I'm actually going to be leaving USC, which is kind of a interesting story for us, at least, because USC and Creighton were both very supportive of this concept. And understanding what we're trying to do to level the playing field for applicants and highlight and amplify the great things going on in our profession. And I just want to thank the University of Southern California for the tremendous support, particularly with the podcast, but also over the last decade. And it has been an incredible journey for me personally and professionally. But family is calling me home to Arizona, I'm going to be taking a new role with the University of Arizona, in Tucson, Arizona starting February 14. So that is one of the reasons why we'll start our second season on February 14, because we wanted to get a clean slate with our new partners. And staff, I would be remiss if I didn't share just a brief note of thanks to all of my colleagues and friends at the University of Southern California, I have been privileged and honored to work with some of the most incredible people on this planet, who have dedicated their lives to service of others. And they're incredible teachers. They're gifted leaders. They are compassionate clinicians. And it has just been a amazing ride for me there. So thank you all for your support and love.



Yeah, and all the best of luck to you in that new role. It's always bittersweet to leave a program that has just meant so much to you and that you've put so much work into. And I know that you're really proud of the work that you've done there. And I know that you've made great contributions at USC. So I'm certainly I'm certain that they that you have, you're leaving big shoes to fill, but also really excited for your for your new endeavor at the University of Arizona. They're fortunate to have you and I'm sure you're going to be equally as impactful in that community as you were.



Appreciate stuff. You're right, it is bittersweet. I leave behind an amazing team of colleagues and friends that had been there with me almost the entire time. An amazing boss, a great leadership team at the University that has really supported that program beyond what I've ever experienced before. So it's always tough to leave a sure bet but my sense of the University of Arizona is they're really excited to do some interesting things, again focused on the service concept, right? The service to many of the members of the community in southern Arizona. So that that's exciting to start a new program, which I've never done in my career. So you have in your way



that I have started a new program. So you might know somebody that might have a pearl or a tip along the way.



I've just might I just might. That's awesome. So any, any parting thoughts before we close up for season one?



No, I'm just really grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this, I do have to give credit where credit is due. You know, Kevin has certainly done the lion's share of the lift of the podcast. And so I have largely just been kind of color commentary here and there and some some minor support in the wing. So I really want to let our listeners know that that he's truly the star of the show, and well my face, or I guess my voice show up every now and then he really is the heart of this of this project. So thank you for all of your work that you've done. And thank you for allowing me to have the opportunity to to be a part of it.



journeys are always more fun when you have a partner to walk with you. So I wouldn't be here without you. And I appreciate your support staff. Thank you. We also want to thank our listeners for checking us out or sticking with us these past five months. And we look forward to our continued partnership as we seek to level the playing field for applicants and amplify the great work that PDAs contribute to our world in season two. We also want to thank our guests from this past season, we could not have done this without their dedication to our profession, to their craft and to this cause. We are fortunate to be in a profession that supports one another in making the world a better place. And all of you have certainly done that throughout your short and long careers in our family of vas. Finally, we want to thank our families and teams for their support of this crazy idea that came to fruition and 2021 Happy New Year to all of you and may 2022 provide us all with a little less stress and a lot more peace and prosperity. Thanks everyone.



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 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.


Happy to learn that we are now one of the Top 15 PA podcasts with the Top 15 Physician Assistant Podcasts list on

Kevin Lohenry, PhD, PA-CProfile Photo

Kevin Lohenry, PhD, PA-C

Clinical Professor and Assistant Vice-President, Interprofessional Education; Founding Program Director

Kevin Lohenry, PhD, PA-C, Clinical Professor of Medicine, currently serves as the Assistant Vice-President, Interprofessional Education and the Founding Director for the University of Arizona Physician Assistant Program in Tucson, Arizona. Dr. Lohenry was a practicing PA in Family and Internal Medicine providing inpatient and outpatient services to his patients. Dr. Lohenry has served as a Director at Large on the Board of Directors for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and served as President of the Physician Assistant Education Association in 2011. From 2012-2013 he served on First Lady Michelle Obama’s Joining Forces Initiative focusing on military veterans and families. Dr. Lohenry has received numerous federal grants focusing on interprofessional education and practice and many state funded grants focusing on the PA workforce and diversity. He has published in the Journal of Physician Assistant Education, the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and Medical Education Online. He is the host of the PA Path Podcast that focuses on leveling the playing field for all applicants and he is a veteran of the United States Navy.

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.