After spending the early days of her academic career at UF, Nina Multak, PhD, MPAS, PA-C, returned in January 2018 as associate dean and the Randolph B. Mahoney director of the School of Physician Assistant Studies. As she celebrates the first anniversary of her appointment, Multak shares her goals for UF’s PA program.
Q: Why did you want to lead the UF School of PA Studies? What’s your vision for the program?
A: I wanted to give back to the profession through a significant leadership role. Since UF was where I began my academic journey, it seemed fitting to return to Gainesville in this capacity. My vision is to build on the success of the School of PA Studies and ensure students are prepared for team-based care through interprofessional education, with an emphasis on professionalism and communication.
UF has also been stellar in its development and advancement of simulation-based health care technologies. We plan to integrate experiential learning into the first year of training, so as soon as students learn about a topic in the classroom, they’ll put that material to practice through simulation-based learning.
Q: How has the profession evolved since its inception in 1967?
A: There are now 123,000 PAs practicing in the U.S. More states have adopted broader legislation for practicing PAs, and health care insurance reimbursement has become more robust for services provided by PAs. Now that more physicians are employed by health care organizations (versus being self-employed), it’s more common for PAs to work for big health care teams without supervision by a distinct physician.
Q: How does health care simulation impact education and patient care?
A: Using simulation, learners practice dynamic decision-making, communication and teamwork behaviors, such as managing high workloads and coordinating under stress. When students practice in a realistic setting, they can explore and make mistakes in a safe environment.
Simulation also provides insight into the effectiveness of processes and systems critical to patient safety and care. Improving a hospital’s care sequence, for instance, requires an accurate model of the care process simulated against numerous “what if ” conditions. The insights learned help hospitals properly manage normal and abnormal conditions — which results in better care for patients.
Q: What’s the best part about being back in Gainesville?
A: In addition to being with good friends and colleagues, enjoying the weather and going on outdoor adventures, I’m looking forward to exploring the new artwork and exhibits available in Gainesville, especially the 352walls. Murals bring art into the public sphere, and each of the walls and artists has a message. I look forward to learning about the messages being imparted by Gainesville residents through art.