North Carolina PAs leading the way for future PAs through education.
Christina Perry, DHSc., MPAS, PA-C, is the Program Director of the Physician Assistant Studies program at Methodist University. She was born in Hope Mills, NC and attended college at Methodist University. During her freshman year, Christina met many PAs and NPs when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Based on her interactions with these “knowledgeable, empathetic and highly competent providers,” Christina was inspired to do similar work and become a PA, completing her Bachelor of Health Sciences degree and graduating in 2003.
The instructors at the Methodist PA program “were so dedicated to medical education that it made a lasting impression” on Christina. After graduation, she had a long term goal of returning to MU to teach, hoping to make a similar impact on future students. Christina began teaching at MU as an adjunct instructor in gastroenterology, and found that she “loved the creativity of education.” When an opening for a full time educator arose, Christina explains that she “jumped at the opportunity to learn new skills in teaching adult learners, curriculum design, and accreditation, while maintaining clinical practice one day a week. It is the best of both worlds.” She became a program director in 2011. Her favorite aspects of her role are:
Working with a dedicated team of faculty and staff at the program, and community partners. One of my jobs is recruiting assistance in teaching and precepting from our local network of community providers. This work helps the program stay engaged in the needs of our community while also helping our students get a clinically relevant experience in education. I am working beside some preceptors and instructors who taught me in the early 2000s and making new connections, as well. It is a great community. I also enjoy the opportunity to teach incredibly talented students. It is great to see the amazing work of our alumni and think that I played a small part in their journey. Methodist University PA Program is celebrating our 25th year of education this year, and celebrating those accomplishments is an honor.
Christina hopes that “PAs remain and become more dedicated to precepting PA students, because there is such a need.” She believes that “it would be wonderful to develop a network of PA preceptors and resources for them to be excellent educators in their clinics or hospital systems. PAs in leadership positions should work to develop processes and incentives to make precepting students a natural part of practice. This type of work will help train even more PAs to fill the needs for healthcare in NC.” Christina also believes that diversity and fair pay are “important issues to both patient care and maintaining the outstanding workforce of PAs in NC” and hopes that “PAs work to promote diversity and decrease the gender wage gap for the largely female profession.”
Christina joined NCAPA as a student member and has maintained that membership for most of the last 20 years. During her time as a student member, she saw how dedicated NCAPA is to students and has been continued to be impressed by NCAPA’s advocacy work. She believes that as busy providers, “PAs do not always have to time to stay current with advocacy, but having NCAPA work as our voice has served us so well.” Christina feels that just being a member can truly make a difference, while also having the option to take advantage of excellent CME, leadership opportunities, and networking.
Christina currently lives in Fayetteville, NC and practices in ophthalmology. In the past, she has worked in student health, urgent care, with her true love being her first job in gastroenterology. She loves “the variety that being a PA offers. PAs have so many opportunities for growth and career expansion after graduation.” Christina particularly loves “being a PA in NC, the birthplace of the profession, where we are leaders for advocacy and progress in the profession nationwide.”