Podcasting and PA Advocacy

Becky Mueller is an American trained PA who practices in Canada. She worked in Oncology, before switching to a job in Palliative Care. 

Meet the PAs & PA Helpers Canada

Meet the PAs podcast probably bridged out of PA Helpers. We started working on PA Helpers and realized that we wanted to get to know other PAs in the country better in order to make a better course. It started probably out of working on PA Helpers. We started working on the course, and realized we wanted to get to know our audience better. And then that bloomed into wanting to get to know the Canadian PA audience better. And we thought we should get podcast going.

Everybody’s got them. Rachael and I LOVE podcasts. We listen to them everyday, on our ride to work, and just are daily lives. We quite enjoy them. We thought it would be a fun endeavour. It’s essentially a completely different project. But they do coincide when they occurred.

Who We’ve Interviewed

We have a number of people we have interviewed, and we are trying to get greater spectrum of audience because the majority of people we have interviewed are in Ontario.

We recently interviewed Janna Malone, and her podcast will be released in a couple of weeks. She is doing a lot of research, a lot of work in Ottawa and VERY inspiring to other PAs in the country.

We have also interviewed Ian Jones, the head of the University of Manitoba PA Program and he has been a founding member of the PA profession here. He was a founding member of the paramedic profession in Manitoba as well. He has, throughout his entire career been this person that wanted to instigate projects and move things forward.

We also have an interview with a PA in Ghana, who was our first international interview. I feel that most of us are fairly unaware of the day to day of other PAs in other countries. Especially in countries that have a different lifestyle from ours here in Canada. That’s very interesting. In fact, they are currently on protest in Ghana, as PAs as waiting for a salary increase. They are waiting for a liveable wage, which they do not have. They have amazing autonomy, of which we would be very jealous of in Canada. It has been this way since the 1960’s. But they don’t get a living wage, which is really unacceptable for the amount of education that they’ve had. They are in the works of lots of different things. There are lots of things happening in the global PA realm that I feel we should be aware of.

One of the things Rachael and I have a goal of is connecting this PA world. There is not a lot of us in the globe, and we should be supporting each other, not just on a provincial or national level in Canada, but on an international level.

Let’s connect with each other and learn from each other and we can bridge these gaps and become quite a strong force together.

PA Leadership and Advocacy

Getting Started in PA Leadership & Advocacy

I really feel we really have the doors wide open here. And we are an amazing group of people. The more and more that I get to know PAs in this country, especially through the podcast, as well as through teaching. I am meeting really amazing people.

The great thing about is, most of them don’t know how amazing they are. They have these wonderful skills and we have a profession in this country that needs recognition. Let’s put us on the academic map. Let’s put us on the pharmacologic map. Let’s put us on the research map. We need ourselves, everybody has to take this on because we’re a small group. We NEED to take leadership roles.

Now we have excellent leaders, within our own organization, within the universities, within CAPA. But we need to branch out, because if we only stay within ourselves our profession won’t continue to move up the ladder. We need to spread out.

Contract Research Organizations (CRO’s) are a great place. Some of those jobs are reserved for PhD’s and MD’s, but there is no reason, why a PA cannot lead it and even be the, instead of the senior medical advisor, be the junior medical advisor.

We need leadership in the hospital setting as well. I find it really interesting, we have a LOT of leadership in hospitals that don’t have any clinical experience and this is providing a huge gap in our medical system. PAs can help close that gap. We have leaders within this profession that don’t know they are leaders yet, that can fill these spots. It certainly will take advocacy, and it won’t be easy, as there are lots of ceilings to break through, but I am quite confident we have the skills to do it.

PA Leadership in Hospitals

The Director or Manager position is an excellent role. We as a profession are used to bridging the gap. We are often the communication between patients and physicians. We are often social work or psychiatry, and general practitioners.

We are used to bridging the gaps. We see patients, and we don’t just come at it from the medical role but we also have to come at it from the nursing role. You go to a nursing home, hospital setting, or a home setting and we often helping change patients, and clean them, in addition to doing some of the actual medical activity that we are there for.

We are used to melding all these pots together, which is why we would be an excellent role leader as a manager, or director in different hospital settings.

Directors tend to have multiple departments they are in charge of and that varies from hospital to hospital. If you really know the Emergency Room, why would that not be an excellent role for you? It would. Often those roles are left for people who don’t have clinical hands-on experience, and part of that is because people who work in clinical practice often don’t have experience or desire to move to the administrative track. It’s also because we have this idea here that we keep those roles separate, which is really the opposite of what effective leadership means.

Are Master’s degrees required to get involved in PA leadership?

They are not a requirement, each hospital will have their preference. Currently, frequently the preference, somebody who has a Master’s, PhD or MD. There is a Master’s program in Canada for PAs BUT most of the programs are not currently Master’s program. There could be potential gap there where hospital administration may refuse your candidacy without that further education. But, I think that is something we have to work on.

Getting Started in Leadership

We should focus on moving ourselves up the ladder even with our clinical practice. I can start from smaller things like initiating a research project.  Getting your physician’s on board with that. And learning the process of going through with that.

Maybe it starts with communicating well with the Board of the Hospital, because if they know who you are, then you’re more likely to continue moving up the ladder and expanding their resume. Take leadership roles within creating different directives and guidelines at the hospital, although that may attributed to people with a Master’s in Public Health. There’s no reason you can’t be a part of that. The more you make yourself apart of something, the more likely you are going to continue moving up that ladder.

I spent early years very much focused on learning and feeling like couldn’t do that. I did eventually start to move up. I started to have meetings at the hospitals, especially with the nurses association, trying to bridge the gap and to ensure we had good working relationships in 2010. It was very challenging to have good working relationships, and I think we are making progress with that. People need to get to know us more. I did hold a lot’s of meetings.

I did not initiate research projects though, and didn’t go above and beyond outside of my oncology unit, and I would change that if I could go back, and I would. At this point, I do feel I am taking a leadership role, and I am creating that environment for myself, although it is not a hospital setting anymore, I am moving down the track, and I am trying to do that.

I may not have every skillset that everybody wants but I certainly many I can bring to the table. I truly believe that about everybody. If we have that diversity that is pushing and moving things forward, we can do that as a whole group.

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