Faculty represent Elon PA Studies Program at physician assistant education conference

Five abstracts submitted by Elon University faculty were selected for presentation in New Orleans at the 2023 PA Education Forum.

Faculty from Physician Assistant programs everywhere gathered in New Orleans in October for the PA Education Forum, an annual event developed by the PA Education Association “to identify innovative solutions to concerns and issues in their own programs, share scholarship related to teaching and learning, to create community and promote mentorship amongst PA faculty/staff, and to provide continuing medical education needed to maintain licensure.”

Elon Physician Assistant Studies program director and chair C. Kim Stokes (right) with members of the PA Education Association’s Faculty Development Mission Advancement Commission.

The PAEA represents 303 accredited physician assistant education programs around the country comprised of an estimated 2,500 faculty and staff. All five faculty members from Elon’s Department of PA Studies who submitted abstracts had their work accepted for presentation compared to an overall 48% acceptance rate for the conference.

Presentations at the Education Forum are “tracked” as competency-based education, driving innovations in clinical education, health systems science, inclusive excellence, integrating technology into the learning experience, organizational success, research brief, research poster, teaching the 21st century learner, and transforming the student experience.

Dr. Alexis Moore delivered content in the focus track Teaching the 21st Century Learner. The spotlight discussion entitled “Community Engagement as a Tool for Teaching Social Determinants of Health and Professional Identity” highlighted her work related to “Start Early in Medicine” with the “It Takes a Village” project of Elon. Moore’s project has allowed two cohorts of Elon PA students to interact with a cohort of young minds. The Start Early in Medicine cohort is on campus weekly during the Fall semester and also for a week in the Summer.

Dr. Antoinette Polito and colleague Alison McLellan, MMS, PA-C, from Pacific University School of PA Studies delivered a presentation titled “Teaching Abortion Care in the Post-Roe Era” that brought to the forefront an intersect of law, ethics, public health, and medical care. Polito teaches clinical reasoning and evidence-based medicine in the Department of PA Studies and delivers ethics-based topics throughout the curriculum. This year, she has also presented research at the NC Academy of PAs summer conference around the issue of weight stigma in medicine and re-evaluating patient care. Beyond this work, Polito serves as a volunteer with PAEA providing “Faculty 101” workshops for new PA educators. These workshops are held twice a year.

Dr. Cynthia Bennett (second from right) presenting with her colleagues on POCUS.

Dr. Cynthia Bennett presented with a panel on ways to integrate Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS) into PA curriculum in the focus track Integrating Technology into the Learner Experience. Bennett has integrated POCUS into the Elon PA curriculum, started a special interest group related to POCUS, and currently runs a “Choose Your Path” activity in the clinical year that allows learners to have documented training and skills on their CVs related to POCUS as they seek their first PA careers.  She is part of Elon’s Experiential Learning Workgroup and currently serves as the president of the Society for Point of Care Ultrasound, a constituent committee of the American Academy of PAs. Of note, she recently completed a successful Elon Tectonic Plates presentation locally.

Dr. Tracey Thurnes, chair of Elon’s Academic Council, presented a session in the focus area Organizational Success. The focused discussion entitled, “Leadership in PA Education: Bringing Theory to Practice” was presented with Elon PA adjunct faculty, Dr. Shaun Lynch.  The session focused on types of leadership as well as creating personal leadership philosophy statements. Dr. Thurnes also had an international presentation this year with the International Association of Medical Science Educators.  Her leadership experiences include leading the Accelerated Pathways to DPT and PA programs at Elon and serving on the PAEA’s End of Curriculum Exam Development Board.

Dr. C Kim Stokes facilitated a workshop based on her scholarly work with Elon’s Director of Inclusive Excellence for Graduate and Professional Students, Dr. Morolake Laosebikan-Buggs. In this workshop, entitled “Preparing Students to Interrupt Bias”, participants were taken through cringe-worthy scenarios to allow them an opportunity to practice interrupting biases relevant to the work they do daily with learners. This was presented in the focus track Transforming the Student Experience. Dr. Stokes also presented an academic poster related to the work of an inter-professional team in the School of Health Sciences around Professional Identity Formation.

In addition to serving as Elon PA program director and chair, Stokes serves on the PAEA’s Faculty Development Mission Advancement Committee. Through her work with this group, she presented a session titled “Mentoring, mentors, and me: Establishing mentoring networks to unlock success” in the focus area of Organizational Success.

Leading up to the PA Education Forum, she also authored two articles in PAEA News related to Health System Science further promoting the intersectionality of health science and inclusive practices.