Reamer Bushardt, PharmD, PA-C, DFAAPA, is a recognized national leader and academician who began his medical career as a clinical pharmacist before becoming a physician assistant (PA). He has served as a PA program director and division chief of PA Studies at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston, SC (2004-2010), chair of PA Studies and a health system executive at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC (2010-2017), and senior associate dean at the School of Medicine & Health Sciences at the George Washington University (2017-present). He is a tenured professor with a prolific scholarly career and track record of service in regional, national, and international affairs.
Bushardt grew up in a small, rural town in South Carolina and became a pharmacist like his father. He attended the University of South Carolina and earned a BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1998 and graduated in 1999 with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.
Interested in advancing his diagnostic skills, he left pharmacy practice to train as a PA at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston and was graduated in 2002. He spent much of his clinical year as a PA student in rural, medically underserved communities. The regional coordinators of the South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium (SC AHEC) helped introduce him to the communities and oversaw the quality of his clinical experience and professional development. Given his rural background and clinical training as a student, Bushardt chose to work after graduation for Carolinas Primary Care, which operated family practices and rural health clinics near the border of South and North Carolina. It was during this time that he joined a Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) funded project led by PA faculty at MUSC. He served as a professional development coordinator, spending time outside his clinical work meeting with local high school and college students and counselors to talk about the PA profession. He traveled across the state recruiting students from areas designated by HRSA as rural, medically underserved, health professional shortage areas.
In 2004, Bushardt joined the MUSC PA program faculty serving over time in a variety of roles from pharmacology instructor, academic coordinator, program director, and division chief. While at MUSC he practiced family medicine and helped implement clinical trials in cardiology, psychiatry, radiology, and the neurosciences. Bushardt developed a passion for cultivating student leaders, pushing advocacy efforts that expanded the South Carolina PA Practice Act, and organizing the first activities to create formal structures to advance PA and nurse practitioner roles within the MUSC health system.
In 2010, Bushardt was recruited to be the program director and chair for the Department of PA Studies in the School of Medicine at Wake Forest University (WFU) in Winston-Salem, NC. During his tenure at WFU, Bushardt helped raise the program’s national ranking to the Top 10 in U.S. News & World Report; launched a satellite campus in the rural, mountain region of Boone, NC in partnership with Appalachian State University; grew scholarships for students from underserved communities and underrepresented groups; and expanded departmental research with extramurally funded projects from HRSA, NIH, and various endowments and foundations. At WFU, Bushardt practiced in family and internal medicine, led workforce development activities for an NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Award, and took part in the clinical operations as health system associate vice president for workforce and process innovation. His workforce efforts helped shape new infrastructures, policies, reimbursement systems, hiring practices, data systems to describe the value of PAs and NPs, and leadership opportunities for PAs and advance practice registered nurses; these efforts paralleled a large expansion in the size of the PA and NP workforce for Wake Forest Baptist Health.
In 2017, Bushardt became senior associate dean for the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at the George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, DC and began this role overseeing health sciences departments, centers, and more than 40 academic programs. Bushardt also serves as part of the primary care division in the GW Medical Faculty Associates and supports health system efforts to expand primary care, the PA and NP workforce, continuous quality improvement, and inter-professional collaborative practice. He has applied prior lessons learned to build numerous public-private and community partnerships to advance education, research, and career opportunities for individuals from underrepresented groups and underserved communities. He is principal investigator (PI) for the GW Health Careers Opportunity Program, a healthcare workforce development program for trainees from disadvantaged backgrounds, funded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). He is Primary Investigator (PI) for a T32 National Research Service Award focused on developing primary care researchers, with a focus on health services research that seeks to address issues of health equity. He is co-director of the Clinical Translational Science Institute at Children’s Network (CTSI-CN), funded by the National Institutes of Health and its National Center for Advancing Translational Science. These projects, representing around $29 million in extramural funding, share common approaches in using innovative methods to catalyze education and research, while creating opportunities for individuals from backgrounds that are underrepresented in medicine and science careers.
Professionally, Bushardt has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA) for more than a decade, was its editor-in-chief for nearly nine years, and currently is its editor-in-chief emeritus. In his leadership at JAAPA, he oversaw its transition to a new publisher at Wolters Kluwer; its arrival as the first PA journal to earn an Impact Factor and be indexed by Thomas Reuters; substantial growth in quality, citations, and research publications; and award-winning content with accolades from numerous national publishing associations and competitions (e.g., Folio, APEX, ASHPE). Bushardt also served on the Research Council and as a director-at-large for the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). During his career, he has collaborated with the leadership of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA) and the PAEA to advance their business strategy, communications, advocacy, and educational efforts. Bushardt has edited textbooks for the health professions, written and published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, has had his work cited around 800 times, and has presented numerous scholarly presentations in the U.S. and Europe.
Bushardt serves on the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education, based in Washington, D.C. Through the forum, he is working with leaders from more than 16 other health professions around the world to advance important issues in health care, such as inter-professional education and collaborative practice, social determinants of health and health equity, digital health and health literacy, person- and family-centered care, integration of health care delivery and education, and, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the response of academic institutions to natural disasters and public health crises.
He has been married to Christin Bushardt, an early childhood educator, since 2001, has three daughters (Isabella, Madeline, and Sophie), and lives in Arlington, Virginia. He believes the greatest reward gained over his career has been that of mentorship. He remains grateful for the care, encouragement, and guidance he received from mentors who helped him explore opportunities and possibilities for his own life and career. He encourages everyone he meets to not only seek mentors, but also to become a mentor for someone who can benefit from their time, interest, and experience.
Acknowledgments: This Biographical Sketch was prepared by Dr. Reginald Carter with assistance from Dr. Bushardt and was submitted to the Society in September 2021. The portrait and other photographs are courtesy of the George Washington University.