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advanced practice clinicians in a classroom


A gap in leadership knowledge and competencies currently exists among advanced practice providers (APPs) such as nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners and physician assistants/associates. The UPMC Office of APPs and the University of Pittsburgh have come together to create an innovative approach through the Advanced Practice Provider Leadership Certificate Course to fill crucial educational gaps for those seeking leadership roles in the health care sector. Our vision for this course is to bring together APPs in a collaborative multi-disciplinary way to explore and engage the building blocks that support a successful and personalized leadership career journey.  

The curriculum spans 16 weeks and is online, asynchronous and organized into 8 bi-weekly modules that cover health law, health policy, health care administration and management, the economics of health care, contributing to research, mentorship, educational strategies for clinicians, change management, telemedicine and other areas of instruction that will further leadership. The first two offerings of the course have been an overwhelming success and a rewarding experience that has contributed to our peers’ growth and development.  

Highlights from Course Participants 

Notably, 96% of participants are likely or extremely likely to recommend this course to colleagues. Additionally, course participants have expressed what they enjoyed the most: 

“Interacting with other APPs in this private format has been extremely helpful. I was able to pose questions, situations and problems to other APPs and receive feedback about their recommendations. Utilizing the other APPs in a private/confidential format was helpful.” 

“This course has allowed me to take a closer look at all aspects of leadership—noting that being a leader is not just being the person in charge--but serving as an example and lifting others up. As I have progressed through this course, I have made positive changes not only in my leadership style but in my over lifestyle. Before taking this course I had not put much stock into my own self-awareness and taking time for myself. I have also learned so much about the importance of collaboration, mentorship and the governing bodies of APPs!” 

“The most positive part about this educational experience is the confidence I have obtained from the course. I am more confident in myself both because of the information that I have been given, as well as the information that I have already obtained. I was surprised to find there were more lectures than I expected where I felt strong in my knowledge; the lectures that I needed to hear were given in a very upbeat, easy-to-understand fashion. I enjoyed that I was provided with a detailed orientation of the hospital system in a way that I have never seen it before—including budgetary terms that I have heard but don't know the definition for; why an insurance payer cares what hospital a patient is at; and what administration thinks of clinical staff when they bring up solutions.” 

“The most positive take away from this educational experience was how the material helped me to develop my own confidence to know that I have what it takes to become a clinical leader and how it provided those steps and considerations necessary to accomplish this.” 

Insight on How Professionals Have Leveraged Knowledge Gained After Completing the Course

Here is one of the many success stories from this course:

“When I signed up for the APP Leadership Course, I had hoped that the information learned would help launch me into a leadership role in the future as well as help prepare me for my upcoming pursuit of my doctoral degree. Little did I know that this would happen much sooner than anticipated as just several weeks into the course, I was promoted to a supervisory role within my department. As I’ve worked through each module, I have been able to implement what I’ve learned in real time. It has not only helped me navigate my transition into leadership, but I have come to recognize the importance of having an executive presence as well as understanding the business side of health care. I have a new sense of self-confidence and have learned essential skills and techniques needed to handle new challenges, recognize my own limitations and how to effectively communicate and positively influence everyone on your team no matter their background. I can’t recommend this program enough and will refer to it again and again as I continue to grow into this new role.”  

Jackie Smith, MS, PA-C, APP Supervisor, Academic Core UPMC Department of Radiology

Perspective on the Value of the Course from a Health Care Executive Administrator  

Our course has also benefitted those in leadership positions that involve interacting with APPs. Here’s another success story:  

“It is unique that our organization offers such a diverse opportunity for our APPs to advance in leadership. Within our group of APPs not only have we seen individuals develop advanced skill sets in being innovative and providing better quality of care but in how they represent themselves and our organization. It has provided them with knowledge in being comfortable with being uncomfortable, being transparent and seeing our health care organization from all angles.”  

Shannon Morrissey, MSCL Division Administrator, UPMC Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Chronic Pain Division

Wrap up: View our complete course overview here and see if this is for you. 

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Written by:

Amy Haller

Amy Haller, MPAS, PA-C, MBA
Co-Director of the Advanced Practice Provider Leadership Certificate Course
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Physician Assistant Studies
Director, UPMC Center for Advanced Practice Education

David Beck

David Beck, EdD, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA
Co-Director of the Advanced Practice Provider Leadership Certificate Course
Associate Dean for Interprofessional Studies, SHRS
Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Physician Assistant Studies