SDPA Creates Extensive Dermatology Training

2018 Advocacy Award Recipient Forms Diplomate Fellowship Program

May 24, 2018

By Abby Boshart

The Society of Dermatology PAs (SDPA) is the 2018 recipient of AAPA’s Outreach and Advocacy Awards for Equipping PAs for Expanded Opportunities in Healthcare. These awards are presented each year to recognize constituent organizations (COs) for their outstanding programs, projects and initiatives.

L. Gail Curtis, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, president and chair of AAPA’s Board of Directors. and Constituent Relations Work Group Chair Rafael Pomales, MHS, PA-C present the 2018 Outreach and Advocacy Award for Equipping PAs for Expanded Opportunities to Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C and Jodi Arnold Burkholz, MPAS, PA-C.

In 2016, the SDPA retired its Distance Learning Initiative (DLI), a rigorous 70-hour clinical learning course that was created in 2008. Looking to update and improve their curriculum, the organization gathered a team of experts, including a professional testing service and subject matter experts, to build a new program from the ground up.

“SDPA leaders and members felt it was our duty to provide practical dermatology education to both new and seasoned dermatology PAs,” said Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C, who serves as a director-at-large for SDPA.

Through a lengthy multi-step development process, including an opportunity for review by the entire SDPA membership, the Diplomate Fellowship program was created. With 22 different modules and approximately 65 hours of Category I CME, this program offers extensive, didactic training and clinical education.

Each module covers an important dermatology topic ranging from dermatopathology to genodermatoses to neoplasms. The entire program costs around $500, or $7 per CME hour, and is available through SDPA’s Learning Central.

“This program enables PAs new to dermatology and those already practicing to gain valuable knowledge,” said Sikes. “In addition, the program provides a recognizable designation for PAs in the field of dermatology and beyond.”

Upon completion, participants earn the honorable distinction of Diplomate Fellow status, as well as CME credit and an array of additional benefits from SDPA. The organization is currently pursuing accreditation from the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) under the NCCA Certificate Standard.

The Diplomate Fellowship was first launched in June 2017, and over 500 members enrolled within the first week. To date, more than 1,100 PAs have signed up for the course, which is almost half of the entire SDPA eligible membership base. The organization has also heard from dermatology practices that are interested in using the program to provide their PAs with baseline didactic training.

“As a former academic coordinator and program director for a PA program, I could not be more proud of our organization,” said Sikes. “The curriculum was developed with the highest standards and is destined to be model for future educational endeavors.”

Abby Boshart is the communication coordinator at AAPA. Contact her at