Leading the Way | Ami Steele, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA
North Carolina PAs leading the way for future PAs through education.
Ami Steele, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, is the Program Director of the Gardner-Webb Physician Assistant Studies program. The daughter of a pastor, she was born and raised in southern Georgia and lived there for most of her life. Ami graduated from Lee University in 1993, where she earned a BS in Biology with a pre-medical emphasis. At the time, she wasn’t interested in attending graduate school and was searching for something “easier” to do with her life. When Ami was 25, she traveled to the Philippines for six months where she worked in Manila with children suffering from skin and respiratory problems arising from poor air quality and lack of clean water. Her experience being immersed in the culture of a third world country with lack of access to adequate healthcare felt to be a call from God, directing her to medicine. Ami returned from Manila and entered PA school at Emory University a year later, graduating in 1999.
Ami believes that “knowledge is power, and teaching empowers future generations of (the PA) profession to lead us in the evolving world of healthcare.” She always had a desire to be a PA educator, even while in PA school. “When you are a faculty member, your focus is relegated mostly to classroom delivery of information and student support. These are aspects of PA education that drew me to the transition into academia,” she reports. Ami became a faculty member at Emory University, fulfilling one of her dreams. From her first job, she was encouraged to pursue being a Program Director. It wasn’t until she had worked in PA education for 11 years, including as an Associate Program Director, that Ami felt well prepared to transition to the role. As a Program Director, Ami loves the advocacy for students, faculty, and staff and believes that “when the entire program has tangible support, the engagement exceeds just being co-workers and mimics a family environment. When we truly enjoy what we do, our students are the winners.”
Membership engagement with state PA organizations has been important to Ami since she was a PA student. She believes that “the work that happens on behalf of every PA practicing in our state is very exciting and essential to our ability to practice medicine to our highest level.” Ami and her family left Georgia and relocated to Boiling Spings, NC in 2018, at which point she joined NCAPA. She feels that “state-advocacy is essential” and that “the ongoing work by the NCAPA to craft and address legislation to meet the needs of our profession is phenomenal.” She shares, “I advocate for student needs. NCAPA is a great supporter of our PA students in North Carolina.” Ami is excited about Optimal Team Practice (OTP) and hopes to see North Carolina “set the standard for advancement in PA medical practice.”
Ami is not currently practicing clinically, but has experience in women’s health, where she felt passionate about educating her patients. She has maintained a focus on program leadership at Gardner-Webb since joining the program but hopes to “join a practice to engage in women’s healthcare delivery soon.” When we asked her what she loves most about being a PA, Ami shares:
I love teaching the next generation of PAs the most. I recognize beyond their dedication to advancing our profession, they are the future healthcare providers for my family members, friends, and me. Nothing excites me more about our work than to hear from others who have had an exceptional experience with one of our students or graduates. Working with our alumni as they decide to give back to their program, teaching, mentoring, and precepting the next generation are more important than ever. Instilling a sense of devotion to give back and working with our alumni in that effort is a true delight.
The Gardner-Webb PA program is fortunate to have such a strong leader like Ami, helping to lead the way for the next generation of PAs.
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