Learning to Sail: The Process of Entrustment and Development of Expertise when Navigating a New Clinical Beginning

October 21, 2023 from 2:30pm ADT to 3:30pm ADT

Grand Ballroom CDE

The partnership between a PA learning a new clinical role, and the new supervisor guiding and mentoring them, shares many similarities to the partnership of a brand new sailor learning from and guided by an “old salt”.  For new sailors the volume of new learning can feel overwhelming.  Although the initiate is eager to learn, there can be both fear and apprehension.  Similarly, starting a new clinical position can be daunting for new graduates, and PAs moving into new clinical roles.  As PAs we are prepared for this challenge and know that in addition to the knowledge and skills we developed in school, all new positions will require significant study and effort to develop confidence and expertise.  This interactive session will explore this transition and some recommendations for smoothing the waters.  We will examine concepts and recommendations from the literature on the process of entrustment, continued learning in the field, and the development of expertise. We will draw on the questions and experiences of new graduates embarking on their new roles, the wisdom and experiences of PAs who have been through it.  We will discuss the role of experienced PAs and PA supervisors in teaching, mentoring and supporting “the new PA”.

Entrustment and trust are closely related concepts.  Trust involves belief in ability or reliability.  Entrustment is a process of supervision, that allows gradually increasing autonomy as skills and abilities are demonstrated. Educators and PA supervisors make entrustment decisions regularly, and determine the roles that PAs perform. Entrustment decisions have several important functions, including quality improvement and safety, educational development, and relationship building with colleagues and patients.

Our entrusted professional activities for PAs (EPA-PA) provide a list for the activities that PA students are learning and practicing so that they are ready to perform them with patients and families.  Following graduation, we continue to learn and deepen our understanding of our clinical area and our new teams and organizations.  When a PA changes jobs, the supervisor’s entrustment decisions affect the activities and the amount of autonomy assigned, and whether further learning and practice is required.

It takes a lot of time on the water, handling difficult situations and learning to read the boat and the wind, in the process of becoming “an old salt”.  The process of becoming the experienced PA also involves gaining wisdom through experience.  As PAs, how do we facilitate processes supportive of the new PA, learning the new role and developing expertise?  We will also consider whether a new agenda for transitions into new roles is required.

Speakers / Panelists