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SLU Physician Assistant Student Selected for Future Educators Fellowship

Saint Louis University (SLU) Physician Assistant (PA) student Nicole Billen was recently named one of the participants in the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) Future Educator Fellowship. Each year, only fifteen PA students are selected to participate in the year-long fellowship designed to explore foundations in teaching, expose students to the current educational environment and expand professional development and leadership opportunities.

Nicole Billen
SLU Physician Assistant student Nicole Billen was named one of the participants in the Physician Assistant Education Association Future Educator Fellowship.

The students selected to the fellowship have access to a network of mentors and educators, the Future Educator Development Steering Committee, who curate an intentional and impactful educational experience for the fellows. The students will attend a kick-off session at the PAEA Education Forum where they will participate in designated sessions and then engage in a year-long program. The goal of the fellowship is to enhance the students’ understanding of medical education and academic careers in PA education.

Billen, who was previously a high school science teacher, was instantly drawn to this opportunity with the PAEA.

“Our program director told my class about the fellowship and I immediately knew I wanted to apply,” Billen said. “I always thought that one day in the future I would like to be a clinical preceptor or PA educator and this fellowship presented the perfect opportunity to learn more about PA education.”

Billen was honored to be among the applicants from across the country to be selected for this opportunity, and she is eager to learn from her peers at other programs.

“Out of all the things that this fellowship will offer, I am most excited to talk to PA students from other programs,” Billen said. “I am curious to learn what makes all of our programs similar and different from one another. We have so much to learn in such a short period of time.”

SLU PA Program Director Caroline Chang, MMS, PA-C, believes Billen’s experience sets her up to excel in this fellowship.

“Nikki brings a unique perspective and skill set to the classroom as a PA student with the background of being a teacher,” Chang said. “We are thrilled to have her represent the SLU PA program at the national level as a PAEA future educator fellow.”

PAEA is the only national organization representing physician assistant educational programs in the United States. Currently, all of the accredited programs in the country are members of the association. PAEA provides services for faculty at its member programs, as well as to applicants, students and other stakeholders.

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of nearly 13,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of more than 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.