PA Leadership Series: Jaclyn Rohan, PA-C

Jacklyn Rohan is a great example of all the ways PAs can be amazing. She is also a 2011 graduate from the University of Florida, so if I’m to be totally transparent, I’m a little very biased regarding her incredible work, she literally made history! Jackie moved to Ireland for a pilot program, where she worked as a PA, while also helping establish and develop their own PA program. She was a great sport in allowing me to write a blog post about her experience. Today, we are focusing on her leadership position for our PA Leadership blog series.

Jaclyn Rohan, PA-C

1. Tell us a little about yourself? Name, how long you’ve been a PA, where you went to school and anything else you’d like to add.

Allow me to introduce myself! My name is Jaclyn Rohan, and I graduated from the University of Florida’s School of PA Studies in 2011. In my 7 years of practice as a PA, I’ve worked primarily in general surgery and breast surgery.

2. What is/was your role as a leader? What does/did your typical day look like?

I was involved with a pilot program in Ireland that aimed to introduce the physician assistant (termed “physician associate”) role to their healthcare system. My role involved both clinical and academic components (about 80/20 split). I held clinical hours several days a week and assisted in the operating room at least one half-day a week. A physician associate program was started within the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland during the pilot program (anticipating favorable response to the introduction of the role). I was involved with development of the PA didactic curriculum, lecture creation, and delivery, as a preceptor to students on clinical rotations in the hospital, and served as a mentor to students during their training. A typical day varied; I was either working in the hospital clinics/operating room or teaching at the university/collaborating with my fellow PAs on the curriculum.

3. How is/was your practice set up? What is the structure and what is your relationship with your supervising physician like?

The purpose of my being in the clinical realm was to not only to demonstrate to patients what a physician associate is, but to introduce the concept to colleagues that may not have been familiar with the role. I worked closely with medical assistants, nurses, physician trainees, and attending physicians. My direct supervising physician had done his fellowship in the United States and was therefore familiar with the role of a PA. He was an important point-person for me to have so that together we could continuously modify and improve the role for an Irish medical model while maintaining the integrity of the physician associate.

4. Do/did you divide your time into clinical and administrative tasks?

Yes, there was about an 80/20 split between my clinical and administrative/academic tasks, respectively.

5. Did you pursue a leadership role or was it offered to you?

How I came upon this role is quite serendipitous. I had spent a week in Ireland on a personal holiday in 2016, and absolutely fell in love with the country. When I came home, I began researching PAs in Ireland and found that the role did not yet exist there. I intensified my google search and discovered an advertisement for the PA pilot program, which at that time had been in effect for nearly a year. I sent my CV to the contact listed on the ad, which led to a Skype interview. It turned out that a PA was needed on the breast/general surgery service (which coincidentally is the discipline I had been practicing in for three years at the time). So six months after sending that email, I was in Ireland!

6. How did you prepare for your role? Did you take any leadership courses?

The time from learning about the opportunity to setting foot on Irish soil was about six months, so I didn’t have a chance to formally prepare for my new role or pursue leadership courses/training. However, I did have opportunities in my employment history that somewhat prepared me for the role I was about to embark upon. At that time, I had five years of clinical experience as a PA in two different positions, and in each of these positions, I had been the first PA the practice/service had employed. I was therefore familiar with working with colleagues/staff to develop a role and felt comfortable almost acting as a representative of what a PA is and demonstrating what we can do. Obviously, being among the first PAs in an entire country is vastly different than being the first PA in a practice, but the patience, flexibility, and determination required is very much the same.

7. Do/did you have room or opportunities to grow in your current leadership position?

As time passed and the role was further recognized, utilization of PAs evolved to match the need of the Irish healthcare system. As such, there was frequent opportunity to grow/change as a leader to suit the expansion of the role.

8. Are/were you satisfied with your position? If you could do it all over again, would you?

There certainly were struggles and obstacles during my time in Ireland, which naturally come with the territory of what was trying to be achieved. But while there were challenges, there were innumerable opportunities for personal and professional growth, for which I am forever grateful. Aside from the opportunity to live in a place as amazing as Ireland again (an opportunity I would seize in a heartbeat!), I would absolutely do everything over again.

9. Do you think PAs are adequately educated about how to be a leader? If not, do you have any suggestions on what should be taught?

The nature of physician assistant education isn’t necessarily leadership-focused, but there are definitely leadership components woven into the fabric of our curriculum. PAs are trained to be independent thinkers and function autonomously, while always being grounded in a team-based approach to healthcare. These foundations are just a few facets of being a leader, and the chance to expand upon these qualities is ever-present as a PA.

10. Do you have any suggestions for newly graduated PAs interested in becoming leaders in their community?

There are opportunities for PAs to serve in leadership roles, and they can take many forms. These may include promoting the development/utilization of the role (on the local or even international stage), working in administrative roles or “chief PA roles” (usually involving administrative and management responsibilities), acting as preceptor for students on clinical rotations or taking on other roles in education, or even as simply as being the first PA in a practice and carving out the role and demonstrating PA utility on a service. Even if a role is not clearly defined as that of a “leadership role”, any initiative taken (small or large) to improve/develop/promote can make you a leader in your community.

Thank you, again, Jackie! You provided an incredible service to Ireland’s PA Profession. I’m excited to see where it takes them. You can see the previous blog post about her experience : On to Greener Pastures: Establishing a PA Presence in Ireland



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Physician Assistant, Owner and Blogger at EmpoweredPAs.com. Currently practicing in a Pediatric Emergency Department, overseeing and developing evidence-based clinical practice guidelines with teams of amazing people, supporting and mentoring Pre-PA and PA Students, with a hope to advance our profession and give PAs the tools and resouces they need to advance their careers.