Timi Agar Barwick was the lead staff member of the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) — formerly the Association of PA Programs — for more than 27 years, until her retirement in June of 2019. She was named as the Association’s chief executive officer in 2000.
Under her leadership, the Association enjoyed a long period of sustained growth, from 54 member programs to 238 (as of March 2019), as demand for PAs drove a boom in the number of accredited programs around the country. When she began her role in 1991, she was the only dedicated staffer, at a time when the Association operated under a management contract with the American Academy of PAs. At the time of her retirement the Association employed nearly 40 staff, having recruited many increasingly specialized content experts in assessment, advocacy, higher education, research, communications, and faculty development. Over this period, the Association’s budget grew from less than $300,000 to more than $10 million, and it was able to develop a broad portfolio of services for its growing membership, including exams, research reports, a variety of workshops, the annual Education Forum, and the quarterly Journal of Physician Assistant Education, which achieved MEDLINE index status in 2011. In 2019, PAEA launched its new Digital Learning Hub, an ambitious project to expand PAEA’s professional development capacity through partnerships with EdCast and LinkedIn Learning, as well as developing professional learning communities and creating personal learning pathways for all PA educators.
Ms. Barwick has a special interest in admissions and a passion for diversity and inclusion work, and has advocated for a diversity accreditation standard and several other initiatives to promote the diversity and inclusion value in PAEA and in PA education. She was also instrumental in starting the PA profession’s first central application service — the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) — which was launched in 2001 with 68 participating programs, allowing thousands of applicants to apply to multiple PA programs through one central application and programs to streamline their administrative processes. CASPA now serves more than 25,000 aspiring PAs each year and is used by more than 95 percent of accredited programs. The revenue from the service has been a key factor in PAEA’s growth and ability to expand its member services.
In 2005, Ms. Barwick oversaw the Association’s transition from its contract with AAPA to independent management, as well as its subsequent name change and rebranding as PAEA. The Association was housed in offices in Old Town, Alexandria, for the first few years of its independent existence, before moving in to the new Association of American Medical Colleges building in Washington, DC, along with health professions education associations from nursing, dentistry, veterinary science, and medicine. This proximity to related associations has helped PAEA build key relationships and leverage coalition efforts toward meeting advocacy goals, as well as draw on shared experience in innovations in health professions education, such as competency-based education. Ms. Barwick has advocated for and represented the PA profession in several national, state and local settings. From 2017-2018, she was president of the Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions, an organization dedicated to collaboration among health professions education organizations.
A native of Michigan, Ms. Barwick graduated from Michigan State University, and soon brought her background in public policy and advocacy to Washington, D.C., where she worked at first as a legislative correspondent on Capitol Hill. She began her association career with the National School Public Relations Association, before coming to PAEA in 1991. In 2013 she completed her master of public management degree at the University of Maryland. She lived in Virginia with her husband and three children for the majority of her PAEA life and was a regular volunteer leader in PTA and swim team activities. When she retired from PAEA she took up full-time residence at her farm house in Vermont. In April 2019 she was awarded an honorary PA degree by Duke University, in recognition of her services to the profession.
Acknowledgments: This biography was prepared by Steven Lane and the photograph in the above banner was also provided by PAEA.