PA Leadership Series: Kristopher Maday, PA-C

This guy! I’m excited to introduce this next PA in our Leadership series! He is an involved, active supporter of the PA profession, we can all learn a bit from him. You may recognize him (or his voice) from one of the many podcasts he is involved in, or from his social media posts.  He is a true multitasker at heart, often balancing the role of PA Program Director with his roles and commitments with AAPA, JAAPA and PAEA. He is a strong supporter of “Free Open Acess Medical Education” (FOAMed) and works hard to incorporate social media, podcasts into PA education. He’s also a family man, practices in a clinic once a week and is also the host of his own fantastic PAINE Podcast. Personally, I really appreciate his love for algorithm/decision trees that he has discussed, as well as his informative twitter “themes” where he covers a multitude of clinical topics on a monthly basis.

Seriously, if you have any interest in becoming a PA, have considered a role in PA Academia, or have an interest in learning from those PAs who are driven, successful and have their hands in a million projects, listen up!

Photo credit: © PAEA/Scott Morgan 2016

Tell us a little about yourself? How long you’ve been a PA, where you went to school, where are you employed currently, and anything else you’d like to add.

I am Kristopher Maday and I have been a PA since 2007 when I graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Surgical Physician Assistant Program. My first job out of school was in the Trauma/Burn Intensive Care Unit and I did some PRN work in the local emergency departments on my off days. During this time, I precepted PA students on their elective rotations and really enjoyed the academic part of teaching and in 2011, I made the jump to full-time faculty at UAB. From 2011 to 2016, I taught most of the clinical medicine topics for the program and advanced to the role of Academic Coordinator.

I left UAB at the end of 2016 to become the Program Director for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center PA Program

I also serve on a few national PA committees:

  • I am an item writer for the PAEA Emergency Medicine and General Surgery End of Rotation Examinations
  • I serve on the AAPA Commission for Continuing Education and Professional Development, which plans and coordinates the national AAPA CME conference each year
  • I am on the editorial advisory board for the Journal of PA Education as their social media member
  • I co-host the JAAPA podcast with Adrian Banning

What is your role as a leader? What does your typical day look like?

My role as program director is to basically oversee the functions of the PA program. A lot of what I do revolves around data collection and analysis to see where we can improve and to ensure we are doing what we think we are doing. I also teach because I love it and it is part of my psychological wellness in academia.

One of the main roles of PD in PA education is to balance the needs of the students and the needs of the faculty. One of my mentors told me that if you feel that you can’t make anyone happy, you are doing the right job.

I try to help put my faculty in positions that not only play to their strengths, but also push them to try to branch out…..such as writing articles, presenting nationally, serving on committees, etc. The success of the program (and ultimately my job as the PD) is directly related to the success of the students, which is directly related to the success of the faculty.

How is your professional life set up? What is the structural hierarchy in academia?

I don’t believe in work/life balance, but in work/life integration. One of the things I strive to do each and every day is to be as efficient with my time as possible. Sometimes this means working at home and sometimes it means handling family scheduling at work. I firmly believe that to be the most successful person you can be you have to incorporate all facets of your life together and work on a symbiotic relationship between home/family and work. The dichotomy of work=bad and home=good only breeds frustration and contempt. Sometimes you HAVE to bring work home or go in on the weekends to finish a project by a deadline, but you balance this with leaving work early or going to have lunch with your kids at school. By doing this, my family understands that sometimes daddy needs to work at home, but they also know that I will take the time needed for them too. Integration, not siloing, my professional life has really led me to be much happy and my family recognizes and appreciates this as well.

In PA education, the hierarchy is tricky because you have university presidents, chancellors, provosts, deans, chairs, etc. Every university is different in the titles, but ultimately you have senior officials, who help make sure the university and the individual schools/colleges run smooth, and then program faculty, who are in charge of the day to day operation of the specific programs. This is where I fall. I am in charge of everything that involves the management of the PA program and my faculty.

Do you interact with any supervising physicians? If so, what is your relationship with them?

I do have a supervising physician in the university health clinic I work at one day a week. She is great and has a lot on her plate trying to manage a busy student clinic and revamp the employee/community clinic that is under this structure. She comes by every shift and asks if I need anything, or have any issues, and then she makes her rounds through the clinic visiting the other providers and staff. She really likes a “hands-off” approach once she trusts your medical judgment and knows we can come to her at any time if we have questions.

Do you divide your time into clinical and administrative tasks? How do you balance your academic role with your other responsibilities?

Most PA education positions give you a 20% release for clinical work (one day a week). This day is Wednesday for me. Due to my previously stated need for integration and efficiency, I bring my laptop with me to clinic and I answer emails and work on what I can in between patients in the clinic.

My administrative responsibilities comes in waves. 2 times per year I need to collate and analyze data from numerous sources and put together reports for our faculty retreats. The weeks leading up to these day-long retreats, I typically am spending all my time in spreadsheets, surveys, EOR outcomes, and PANCE data. I also perform yearly faculty development plans for my faculty where we look at their individual teaching outcomes and evaluations and see if there are any areas of needed improvement. If so, we map out a plan of attack and I assist and help implement these plans.

When I am not in the throes of data analysis, program directing, or teaching, I am working on manuscripts and articles for publications. This is one of the tenets of academia and in order to be considered for promotion, you have to do a degree of scholarship and have a certain number of publications prior to your application.


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

A little bit of both. I was lucky to have a mentor early on in my career that put in positions of leadership in areas she knew I would excel in. Once I started gaining confidence in my work and professional direction, I started seeking out these opportunities. This is what lead me to serve on the national committees I mentioned earlier because I wanted to be involved with projects that can really impact the PA profession.

How did you prepare for your role as a PA leader? Did you take any leadership type courses prior to entering the role(s) you are in now?

I attended the Program Director Development workshop offered by PAEA, but honestly, by the time I had accepted and then started my position, I felt pretty confident in what I wanted to accomplish as a program director. I think this had a lot to do with my experience in PA education at that point and seeing what I liked and did not like about my previous program. This gave me real clarity on the direction I wanted to take my new program and how I wanted to achieve these goals. Luckily, my current program is relatively new (< 5 years old) and very malleable. The existing faculty also were 100% on board with developing a program they all could feel invested in, which made my job so much easier.

Do you have room or opportunities to grow in your leadership position(s)?

Absolutely. The nice thing about academia, is universities are always looking for people to serve on committees and this is a perfect pipeline for working your way up the academic ladder. I also am really enjoying my national service commitments and the people I am meeting along the way. Many of these individuals have opened up doors for me professionally that I am not sure would have been available if I had not served.

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

100%, absolutely! I knew early in my academic career that I wanted to lead a PA program. I have a specific vision of what I want to accomplish in PA education and preparing the next generation of practicing PAs. Being a program director affords me the opportunity to impact hundreds of young PA students, which in turn will affect thousands of patients throughout their career. I can’t think of anything better than that.

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?

This is a tricky question because I think our ethos of the profession is predicated on not being the “top dog” because we have supervising/collaborating physicians to help guide us in our daily practice of medicine. I think that what the AAPA is doing in trying to develop leadership tracks for practicing PAs to learn how to be effective leaders in their community or medical systems. This obviously is directed toward people with intrinsic motivation to be leaders, but I feel it is a great start. We still have a long way to go compared to our nursing and physician colleagues, but I think we are on the right track.

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

The biggest piece of advice I have for early career PAs that may be interested in becoming leaders is to serve first. I truly believe you can’t be a good leader unless you know have to effectively serve. What I mean by this is volunteer to serve on your state PA association, or any of the AAPA endeavors. This will give you a good idea of what the profession is looking for and how you can make an individual difference. This will also give you invaluable networking opportunities with the current leaders in the field. These relationships then will blossom into opportunities for leadership. It is not overnight and you do need to foster them, but they will come.

Do you have any suggestions on how PA leadership track could be a part of the culture of the PA profession?

I think once we start having a consistent presence on local/hospital committees and dedicated PA positions of leadership, then the practicing PAs will see that there is not only a need, but also place to be a leader within these systems. If you don’t see PA-specific roles in your local health systems, then lobby to get one. It is ridiculous that many state medical examiners and hospital credentialing boards do not have PA representation when they are making decisions about PAs. PAs need to be on these boards and committees so our collective, professional voice can be represented and heard. I think once we reach critical mass in this way, then leadership development and professional tracks will open up and prepare practicing PAs to lead in their communities and beyond.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

One thing that has always stuck with me is being an advocate for yourself. My mentor used to tell me all the time that being humble has no place in professional advancement. You need to be able to professionally brag about what you have done and what you can bring to the table. Sometimes your merits speak for themselves, but I have found personally that the more I touted by accomplishments, they more opportunities I got. If you see an award you would like to win, ask your mentor to nominate you. If there is a position on a committee you would like, ask to serve on it and why you would be a good addition. My dad used to tell me “if you don’t toot your own horn, someone will use it as a urinal.”

What are your social media handles and website links?

Twitter – @PA_Maday

Facebook – PAINE Podcast

Website – www.painepodcast.com

Thank you so very much to Kristopher for being generous and answering questions for this blog series! He is a true leader in every sense, and I’m excited to see what the future may bring for him. Do yourself a favor and go find him on social media, you won’t regret it!


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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.