SMHS Faculty Spotlight
SMHS Faculty Spotlight
CFE (Center for Faculty Excellence)

GW School of Medicine & Health Sciences Center for Faculty Excellence 

November 2022 Faculty Spotlight
Excellence in teaching & learning, scholarly endeavors, and leadership are all around us at SMHS. The Center for Faculty Excellence would like to Spotlight our faculty’s contributions to SMHS, George Washington University, and beyond. Each month we will spotlight faculty from across SMHS, MFA, and Children's. We want to thank our highlighted faculty members for sharing with us their advice and perspectives!
- SMHS Center for Faculty Excellence
Join the CFE as we highlight Brandon Beattie, who discusses his journey from US Army Medic to practicing Physician Assistant, and now Assistant Professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. Brandon shares his unique perspectives on teaching, training, and his passion for reducing barriers for fellow veterans and underrepresented minorities through holistic admissions procedures.
Brandon Beattie, November CFE Faculty Spotlight


Brandon R. Beattie, MMSc, PA-C, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies and the Director of Didactic Education, where he oversees the didactic phase of training here at the George Washington University PA program. Before joining the faculty in 2019, he served as a clinical preceptor for the program. A recipient of multiple teaching awards, he currently teaches throughout the program's didactic and clinical phases and serves as the Course Director for Clinical Medicine I & II. Additionally, he is actively involved in admissions for the Department of PA Studies. 
Beattie graduated from the Yale University Physician Associate Program with honors and has worked clinically in Neurology, Urgent Care, and outpatient Interventional Radiology. Before becoming a PA, he served honorably as a decorated U.S. Army Medic with multiple overseas tours. His research interests include holistic admissions and reducing barriers for Veterans and underrepresented minorities.
Brandon is originally from Sterling Heights, Michigan but has called the D.C. area home for many years. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends and exploring the many hiking trails in the area.

Interview Q/A

How long have you been at GWSMHS? What drew you to this current position?
Brandon: I have taught in some capacity since 2019 and then joined full-time in 2020, during the heart of the pandemic. I am a practicing Physician Assistant and first became exposed to academic medicine while serving as a preceptor for GW PA students as a part of their elective rotation in Interventional Radiology. I was very impressed with the caliber of students that would come from GW. The experiences I also had with those students were so rewarding that it was a natural fit to transition to academic medicine full-time.
Why did you pursue a career as a Physician Assistant initially? 

Brandon: It wasn't always the plan. As a non-traditional student, I started as an Army medic right after high school and did that for almost six years. I knew I wanted to do something medical with the military and do my part to serve my country. While abroad in Baghdad, I interacted with PAs who started as civilian PAs and then joined the service after 9/11. They provided me with much insight into the profession. Through this experience, I quickly changed gears to pursue a career as a PA and have never looked back.
What are your major responsibilities here at GWSMHS (teaching- courses; research; service)?

Brandon: I have the privilege of serving as the Director of Didactic Education for the GW PA program. In this position, I oversee the first year of the training and the team that delivers that content and all of our Clinical Medicine courses. Additionally, I serve as the section director for the Ears, Eyes, Nose, and Throat section Endocrine section during the Clinical Medicine I and Clinical Medicine II courses.
In terms of service within the PA program, I sit on our Admissions Subcommittee and Scholarship Committee. I am also a representative on our Student Progress Committee and Chair our Student Mistreatment Task Force, where we look to identify any mistreatment of our learners in both the didactic and clinical phases of their training. For SMHS as a whole, I sit on the Education Technology Committee. I am also fortunate to serve as the Faculty Advisor for Medicine in Motion, an interprofessional nonprofit organization comprised of students from various SMHS programs with a mission of combating burnout through fitness, philanthropy, and interdisciplinary community building.
In terms of research, I have several publications in peer-reviewed journals. I also recently presented nationally at the Physician Assistant Education Association Conference on using “holistic admissions” to increase veteran enrollment in PA programs.
Can you tell us more about the Holistic Admissions for Veterans?

Brandon: The PA profession actually started when a group of military medics returned home from combat in Vietnam. While they had robust medical experience, there was no place in the civilian sector for them to utilize those skills. Over time, the PA profession has been losing sight of these origins. The percentage of PA students in the U.S. who are veterans of military service hovers around 3.5%. The idea of holistic approaches to admissions for veterans is that there are often things within the veteran's application that Admissions Committee members are not seeing. However, their skills can come to light by taking a more holistic approach and looking at the applicants from a more humanistic standpoint rather than just their numbers. My colleague and I presented how we are implementing this approach here at GW and how the profession could be implementing this approach across the board as well.
To add to this point, as both the PA profession and education as a whole move toward diversity, equity, and inclusion, it is important to note that post-9/11 veterans are the most diverse in terms of ethnicity and race of any group of Veterans in the history of this country. It is imperative that we are also capturing these highly qualified individuals in these initiatives. Overall, there's quite a bit of work to be done, but the profession and our University is up to the challenge.
What are some of those skills and backgrounds that are potentially not being seen within the applications for Veterans in terms of admissions into these programs?

Brandon: First, veterans are experts in team-based care and communication; they are natural leaders and fantastic representatives within the student body. Overall, there needs to be more clarity around where they could put experiences and skills into their application, which is primarily written for the civilian population. Due to this lack of clarity, human eyes are not seeing these incredible portions of their application or not understanding it. One of the things my colleague and I have proposed is a national veteran’s admissions task force that can facilitate some training that needs to be done with admissions committees and educational programs, as well as providing mentorship to veterans applying to programs. These training and mentoring initiatives should focus on translating military resumes into civilian language format.
On Veterans Day, we'll see social media posts from major organizations, and then it feels like the day after Veterans Day, things go back to business as usual. 
What is your favorite part of teaching at SMHS?

Brandon: Teaching at SMHS is truly the highlight of my chosen gig. It is a rewarding experience. The PA department at GW is fortunate to be a top-ranked PA program and attracts incredible students. My day-to-day interactions with these students truly make this role rewarding. 
What about the future of Physician Assistant Studies excites you?

Brandon: It is really an exciting time to be an educator in the PA world. The GW PA program recently celebrated our 50th anniversary, and we look forward to many more years. What I'm excited about most is the continued dialogue around how we're delivering our content, certainly in a post-pandemic world, as we look at how today’s students engage the material through multimedia. I find inspiration in the waves of PA students who continue to enter the profession at a time when the world is battling a lethal pandemic. It is akin to Americans volunteering for military service when the country is actively at war. I'm interested and encouraged to see where things will go from here.
What impact do you hope to have on your trainees, your colleagues, and your peers through any of your roles?

Brandon: The impact I want to make on the trainees is a recognition that becoming a PA is hard, but it's worthwhile; reinforcing to them that each of them was hand-selected to be a part of this program, it's not a mistake or an accident. The impact I'd like to have on my colleagues and peers is that despite being a top-ranked program, we cannot rest on our laurels. One of my favorite things about my team is that good enough doesn't exist in our vocabulary. We are constantly looking for ways to improve while also seeking sustainable opportunities. I would encourage us to continue with those efforts even though the work is hard and it's tiring. It's a worthwhile endeavor.
What are you looking forward to working on or doing here at GW? Maybe that you're currently doing or something that you would maybe want to do in the future?

Brandon: I am fortunate to be in the Master Teacher and Leadership Development Program at SMHS, which has been an incredible opportunity. Many of us in academia will say that nobody teaches you how to teach. I challenge them that the Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) certainly has excellent opportunities and programs to do just that. I've also recently applied to pursue a PhD with GW, and I look forward to continuing my studies if selected. Finally, I am excited about the prospects of increasing veteran admissions at GW. Currently, GW undergraduate students make up one of the highest percentages of veterans at a private university in the country. Also, GW has the highest number of Medal of Honor recipients and the highest percentage of veterans buried at Arlington Cemetery. Our graduate programs at SMHS and across the whole institution could be doing a better job of retaining those incredible students in higher education.
How does this faculty spotlight and recognition make you feel? 

Brandon: I am very touched and honored to have the opportunity to be recognized in this way. Having started during the pandemic full time, it took time to meet people and truly get acclimated to GW. I am someone who is “nose to the grindstone” and focuses on the work that needs to get done, so I am honored that what I am doing is catching the attention of some folks.
What is one piece of advice that you want to share with your students or colleagues here at GW?

Brandon: The piece of advice I have is actually a quote from my three-year-old daughter, Nora. Anytime she doesn't know how to do something, she'll say, “I don't know how to do this yet” and I love the word ‘yet’ that she uses. I would encourage the students and my colleagues to harness her mantra as we all navigate new territory together.
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