Leadership Skills for Physician Assistants





In the 50 years of the physician assistant (PA) profession, we have worked hard to be seen as flexible and caring clinicians who can increase health care access, cost effectively improve the efficiency of health care systems, and advance the health care quality movement. Our success in clinical roles has been well documented. Unfortunately, we’ve fallen behind in a major area: leadership! This chapter is intended to provide background, information, guidance, and examples for PAs and PA students beginning their leadership trajectory.




Selecting and Admitting Leaders


The admissions process for PA programs selects for individuals whose priority is to provide clinical care. The acquisition of clinical knowledge, skills, and attitudes is emphasized. Unfortunately, the importance of PA leadership roles receives less attention.




Leadership for Clinicians


For clinicians, leadership is often defined too narrowly as encompassing only medical settings. In fact, it is important that PAs look at leadership in a larger context to include community organizations, educational institutions, sports, and even politics! It’s important to see leadership skills as transferrable. Skills and behaviors learned as a committee participant, board member, or officer in any organization can be transferred to other settings.




Physician Assistants in Leadership


California Congresswoman Karen Bass is an excellent example of PA leadership. In addition to being a PA and a former PA educator, she was a community leader in health care access issues. From there she ran for state legislature and then on to the U.S. Congress. It is increasingly common to see PAs as members of school boards; hospital leadership structures; and, of course, PA organizations.


Leadership is important for PAs at all levels. Leadership brings increased visibility and credibility to the profession. It also creates opportunities for PA input into policies and implementation. We have a lot to offer! Our goal should be to have a PA in every administrative structure where physicians are typically seen or represented.


Ideally, every PA program will place a value on a history of leadership in their admissions process, introduce PA students to faculty members with community leadership networks, and support student-led populations based projects with leadership opportunities. In addition, PA program faculty should encourage and support student career trajectories that include the consideration of future roles as clinical, academic, and health policy leaders.


Too often, clinicians deprecate administrative roles and leadership as tainted and thankless tasks. The attitude is “someone’s got do it, but it isn’t going to be me!” This view fails to take into account the potential to make things better—in both the short term and in the long term—for patients, clinicians, and the larger community.


In reflecting on their careers, many senior PAs say they are astounded at the opportunities that were made available to them. These PAs also recount stories of being drawn into leadership positions even though this was never their intention. They do, however recognize the contributions they have made, so they pride themselves as having “never said NO!” when faced with a leadership invitation. They didn’t want to limit themselves or to limit the contribution that PAs can make in both clinical AND nonclinical settings.


A major advantage that PAs have in leadership roles is that we are already experienced in asking for help. PAs see this as a strength, not a weakness!


In a new administrative or leadership role, it’s good practice to ask a lot of questions about everything from the history of the organization to unique terminology to the roles of everyone in the group. A first priority should be to schedule individual meetings to better understand the organization, its policies, and the cast of characters.




Physician Assistants in Leadership


California Congresswoman Karen Bass is an excellent example of PA leadership. In addition to being a PA and a former PA educator, she was a community leader in health care access issues. From there she ran for state legislature and then on to the U.S. Congress. It is increasingly common to see PAs as members of school boards; hospital leadership structures; and, of course, PA organizations.


Leadership is important for PAs at all levels. Leadership brings increased visibility and credibility to the profession. It also creates opportunities for PA input into policies and implementation. We have a lot to offer! Our goal should be to have a PA in every administrative structure where physicians are typically seen or represented.


Ideally, every PA program will place a value on a history of leadership in their admissions process, introduce PA students to faculty members with community leadership networks, and support student-led populations based projects with leadership opportunities. In addition, PA program faculty should encourage and support student career trajectories that include the consideration of future roles as clinical, academic, and health policy leaders.


Too often, clinicians deprecate administrative roles and leadership as tainted and thankless tasks. The attitude is “someone’s got do it, but it isn’t going to be me!” This view fails to take into account the potential to make things better—in both the short term and in the long term—for patients, clinicians, and the larger community.


In reflecting on their careers, many senior PAs say they are astounded at the opportunities that were made available to them. These PAs also recount stories of being drawn into leadership positions even though this was never their intention. They do, however recognize the contributions they have made, so they pride themselves as having “never said NO!” when faced with a leadership invitation. They didn’t want to limit themselves or to limit the contribution that PAs can make in both clinical AND nonclinical settings.


A major advantage that PAs have in leadership roles is that we are already experienced in asking for help. PAs see this as a strength, not a weakness!


In a new administrative or leadership role, it’s good practice to ask a lot of questions about everything from the history of the organization to unique terminology to the roles of everyone in the group. A first priority should be to schedule individual meetings to better understand the organization, its policies, and the cast of characters.

Only gold members can continue reading. Log In or Register to continue

Aug 7, 2019 | Posted by in MEDICAL ASSISSTANT | Comments Off on Leadership Skills for Physician Assistants
Premium Wordpress Themes by UFO Themes