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SHRS Doctor of Physician Assistant Studies (DPAS) Program

For a PA who is also an educator in Pennsylvania, the change in seasons brings more than just cooler temperatures, it also brings conference season. Having attended two, almost back-to-back, conferences I feel a renewed energy and sense of purpose. Coming together with PA educators from across the country, and later with practicing PAs and PA students from across the state, allowed me to better appreciate the many dimensions of the PA profession. As I reflect on those experiences, I feel grateful and honored. 

I am Grateful 

I am grateful that travel restrictions have been lifted and sound public health measures and vaccination have allowed us all to gather safely, in person, at these events. I am grateful to work in a university, school, and department that supports faculty and the PA profession in many ways, including support for my colleagues and me to travel and participate in these conferences.  

I am thankful for organizations such as the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) and the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants (PSPA) that provide platforms for PAs to come together to share knowledge and advocate for the profession. We are all so very appreciative of the staff and volunteers from these organizations who spent countless hours ensuring the success of their events both in quality of programming and in providing for the comfort of attendees.  

I am Honored  

I am honored to be the director of our Doctor of Physician Assistant Studies (DPAS) program. I work with an amazing group of learners and educators whose work and efforts continue the trailblazing tradition of PAs. I was pleased to see representation from our DPAS candidates at both conferences. Several DPAS candidates presented CME lectures, scholarly posters, and facilitated workshops. Additionally, our DPAS faculty served as conference presenters and as leaders.  

I am honored to have presented talks at both the PAEA Education Forum and the PSPA Fall CME Conference–but more important than that, I am honored to have been part of collaborative groups of colleagues who presented these talks as teams. As Pitt Physician Assistant Studies faculty, we spoke about a teaching innovation we have created, and later, about how to give and receive feedback in the professional setting. We, as PAEA’s Faculty Development Mission Advancement Commission, presented a workshop on overcoming the adversity of teaching and learning during the COVID pandemic. Serving as a member of these teams with other PA faculty who were all open to sharing and learning was one of the brightest highlights of these conferences.  

More than anything, I am honored to be a member of the physician assistant profession. The theme of the PA Education Forum was “Looking Back to Look Ahead.” We, as PAs, are honored to have been a part of our patients’ lives during times of wellness and during times of illness for over 50 years. We recognize it is an honor and a privilege to practice medicine. We have grown in number and in expertise–and we’re not done growing. Let us all honor each other and our contributions thus far. 

We should look back to see where we have been, but let us fix our sights steadfastly on the future. As PAs we must move toward a future of quality care for all patients everywhere. Let us lift each other. Let us challenge each other. Let us forge a new path for ourselves as physician assistants and for our profession.

Mary Allias


Written by: Mary Allias 

Director of the Doctor of Physician Assistant Studies program and assistant professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Published January 4, 2023