In her field, Michel Statler has done it all. She spent 14 years as a surgical physician assistant working in cardiovascular surgery, ENT and neurosurgery. Then she worked in academia as a faculty member with Physician Assistant (PA) programs at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona. She’s now the director of professional affairs and education for the Physician Assistant Education Association.
“I am the first PA and PA educator that they have on staff with the association,” said Statler.
In her role, she develops resources to assist PA programs with clinical year education such as the recruitment and retention of preceptors as well as the development of new testing products to assess student knowledge during the clinical year of training.
Since graduating from the SPA program at UAB in 1980, Statler has written four book chapters and seven peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
Statler says all her years as a PA and then as an educator have given her an attitude of lifelong learning.
“My years as a PA and educator have paved the way for me to now make meaningful contributions to PA education as someone who has been on the inside and knows the needs of PA programs and students,” said Statler. “Each step along the way has built upon the previous experience. When you maintain an attitude of lifelong learning, you will be a better provider and your patients will benefit.”
That’s a life lesson she passes on to students as well as telling them to not be afraid to ask for help.
“There are no stupid questions,” said Statler. “If you don’t know, ask. Take advantage of all learning opportunities. Be a sponge. All the work that you do is an investment in your future career and ultimately will pay dividends with the care of your patients.”
But she also advises students and working professionals to take time for you.
“While being the best healthcare provider or educator you can be is important, it is equally important to have life balance, so make time for family and friends,” said Statler. “If I got one ‘do-over,’ that would be where I would invest more time.”