PA Leadership Series: Kate Callaway, PA-C

PA Leadership Kate CallawayPA Leadership Kate Callaway

Today we have another amazing and dedicated PA for our PA Leadership series! I first connected with Kate through the Physician Assistant Moms group on Facebook and was fortunate to meet her (and her hubby Greg!) at the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants (FAPA) last month! The moment we started chatting, it was very clear she has a passion for what she does. Not only has she held leadership roles within AAPA and FAPA, but she has also been involved (with many other PAs) in the legislative work in the state of Florida, and advocates modernizing the PA practice in our state. Clinically, she also works in Emergency Medicine. She is incredibly busy, and I’m so thankful she was able to answer these questions for our PA week 2019 roundup of FAPA leaders!

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.

Originally from Louisiana, I moved around a bit before settling in Florida. I graduated with a BS in biological sciences from LSU and received my master’s degree from South University in Savannah, Georgia. Savannah was an amazing place to attend school. Not only did I receive a well-rounded education but living in Savannah was a dream: southern hospitality and great food on the backdrop of a beautiful landscape. I then started emergency medicine at a Level II Trauma Center in Florida’s Space Coast and now work at several ER sites with US Acute Care Solutions in the Tampa Bay Area.

What is your role as a leader? (entrepreneurial, administrative, academic, political, etc.)

I have been an advocate for the PA profession for longer than I have held the title PA-C. After starting PA school, I immediately knew PAs were primed to expand their roles within healthcare teams.  I was elected as Student Academy of the AAPA President in 2008 and became a member of the Board of Directors of the AAPA in 2009-2010. Those two years really solidified my understanding of how effective leadership can improve the PA profession and why we also need early-career leadership who understand the intentions of new graduates working in a rapidly changing profession. After a few years of focusing solely on my emergency medicine training, I returned to leadership within the Florida Academy of PAs. I held several roles within FAPA and was elected President in 2015. During this three-year presidential term (President-Elect, President and Immediate Past President), FAPA was able to elicit support for and pass several beneficial statutes for Florida PAs, most notably controlled substance prescribing and scope of practice determination at the practice level.   These two very important bill passages (among other clean-up language over the years) has really helped create a level playing field for PAs practicing in Florida. I can only say that there is much more work to be done, and I believe it’s incredibly important for PAs to continue to advocate for the laws which govern their practice.  

I’ve since shifted my leadership from forward-facing roles to behind-the-scenes roles.    Currently, I help FAPA manage the online web-based platform for CME and seek out lecturers that can improve PA practice and personal development. I am currently setting up a financial and PA business education series, as well as securing lecturers for Florida required courses. On top of this, I also currently manage a business that was initially created to save Florida PA’s collectively over a million dollars of costs related to Florida required CME courses. But that’s a story for another time and there are lots of leaders to thank for their efforts with this project and all of the previous Florida legislative advancement.  In fact, if you haven’t thanked a PA leader in a while, go ahead and send an email or text.  PA leaders (whether they lead your local offices, state or national associations or community initiatives) give up personal time, energy and passion into creating a great working environment for future and current PAs.  A simple note of appreciation is a great way to re-energize these folks.

What does your typical day look like?

I work emergency medicine and observation medicine exclusively at night. Meaning, that my typical day starts off with a few hours of sleep, a mid-day wake-up and breakfast, finishing errands and responsibilities in the afternoon and finally starting work around 7pm. This shiftwork offers plenty of time to manage several different responsibilities concurrently and still allows for vacation and family time. Over time, people have learned not to call me at 9am and they don’t question the 4am email response

If you are clinical, how is your practice set up? What is the structure and what is your relationship with your supervising physician like?

During my years in emergency medicine, I have worked within several hospital institutions and with hundreds of ER providers.  I have been employed by my current company, USACS, for 8 years and have stayed because the physician leadership values PAs working in this environment. As a group that staffs multiple ER sites within Tampa Bay, there is a large amount of opportunity to work in clinical settings that utilize PA knowledge and challenge PAs to continually educate themselves. Our sites inspire and train PAs to work to the top of the PA license and the USACS team is supportive of continued education for all advanced practice providers.  Since I work nights, I practice rather autonomously but there are many opportunities within my company to continue to advance my clinical and non-clinical skillset.

Do you divide your time into clinical and administrative tasks?

Currently, I work 80% in the clinical arena. I have held several local and national leadership positions within my group, which focused on PA/NP education and development of the national scope of practice guidelines.  Now, I work with a mentor PA leader to evaluate and ensure company compliance with state and national regulations. I review state laws, hospital DOPs/Bylaws for APPs that are working at over 200 clinical sites across 20 states and attend clinical governance board meetings to represent and advocate for the PAs and NPs working across all of our sites.

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

Initially, I sought out leadership roles. After a person’s leadership experience expands, roles start to create themselves and a leader must decide where their own strengths align with opportunities. Currently, I’d say it’s 60% pursuit & 40% offered. Some roles, I am the “right” fit for, while others I seek out to increase my own knowledge base and/or bring some passion and expertise to projects.  I keep myself rather busy with several current mutually exclusive roles.

I believe leadership is a laddered transition and continued involvement keeps you moving forward step-by-step.

Kate Callaway, PA-C

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

I believe leadership is a laddered transition and continued involvement keeps you moving forward step-by-step. I have been involved in leadership training events with my current employer, but leadership is not necessarily developed by taking classes or reading books. Effective leaders know how to listen; they don’t walk into a group and start spitting out commands. I believe the best leaders initially jump in silently, listen to the issues & develop and understanding of stakeholder positions to find the common ground where the team can improve current issues.

Kate Callaway, PA-C

Do you have room or opportunities to grow in your current leadership position?

There is so much leadership opportunity available for PAs in several different arenas. I really want to see PAs grow more prominently in either hospital-based leadership roles, by sitting on medical executive committees and joining the ranks of hospital administrators or by becoming members of state medical boards. I wish there was more opportunity in these roles, and they can be difficult to find, especially in my current hospital system. I believe all PAs need to help advocate for more PA leadership opportunities, because I am seeing trends that leave PAs out of decision-making.

There is so much leadership opportunity available for PAs in several different arenas. I really want to see PAs grow more prominently in either hospital-based leadership roles, by sitting on medical executive committees and joining the ranks of hospital administrators or by becoming members of state medical boards.

Kate Callaway, PA-C

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

Absolutely, PAs provide excellent medical care and are some of the best patient care advocates. I would be lying if I said there aren’t tough clinical days, but I chose a fantastic profession. What I love most is that as our profession ages, we (as a whole) get younger every year. The mean age of currently practicing PAs has been decreasing since I graduated. This means that the students enrolled in programs now and early-career PAs have such a great opportunity to continually mold their own profession!  Having stated the above, I believe PAs must be realistic about upcoming obstacles across the healthcare sector. We need to take steps now that open up opportunities for PAs, including PAs being able to open up their own businesses free of restraint, and PAs being recognized as independent experts in their field if appropriate (without tying that expertise to another license). It is so very important for every PA to understand the necessity of incorporating AAPA’s Optimal Team Practice within national and state legislation and hospital bylaws

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?

No. I think the nature of our profession, leads new graduates to focus on individual education within their chosen specialty first (as it should). Students may not be going through a formal residency, but those first few clinical years out of school are imperative in the development of a good clinician.   In the immediate post-graduate educational years, I believe students can lose passion for leadership and developmental opportunities. Unfortunately, that means they don’t always come back to leadership or broadly expand their own management experiences.   Sometimes PAs only get involved when they have a crisis at hand (practice rights). At this problem stage, leadership development can almost be considered too late, because the leadership experience focuses on the crises “fix-the-problem”, which usually isn’t easy.  I have seen PAs become discouraged at these late stages. My suggestion is for PAs to become involved in leadership early, even small projects, which ultimately helps mold dynamic future PA leaders who can advance the collective ambition of PAs.

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

Find your passion first, know where you will thrive, but make sure to keep an open-mind. When I first ran for a FAPA board position, I ran for treasurer. I really didn’t believe this role would be interesting, but I took the leap because I had excellent mentors that encouraged me to broaden by perspective.  I really enjoyed the position, so much so, that I received awards and my future leadership journey felt like strolling up a hill, rather than climbing a mountain.

Find your passion first, know where you will thrive, but make sure to keep an open-mind.

Kate Callaway, PA-C

My second piece of advice is to find a mentor. Find someone that you can ask “off-the-record” questions or bounce ideas with collaboratively.  There have been many times that by speaking to a mentor, my own perspective became enlightened.  Mentorship can really enlighten any leader by granting an added layer of insight to projects.

Contact Info:

@K8_callaway    Instagram 

Kate Callaway Burns        Facebook


Greg Burns, Courtney Titus, and Kate Callaway at the FAPA Summer Symposium 2019

I’m so thankful Kate took the time out of her busy schedule to answer our leadership questions! She has worked so hard for our profession, and it’s so important we hear about the many roles she has had and those she is actively involved with now! The work she has done (and the work being done by so many other PAs in Leadership) is greatly appreciated and a testament of the drive and passion at the core of our profession!


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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.