Meet Folusho Ogunfiditimi, 2023-2024 President and Chair of the AAPA Board of Directors

President Ogunfiditimi is a Longtime Leader Within the Profession

July 1, 2023

By Folusho E. Ogunfiditimi

Folusho E. Ogunfiditimi, DM, MPH, PA-C, DFAAPA

Today, I am deeply honored and humbled to begin my term as president of the American Academy of Physician Associates and Chair of the Board of Directors. I want to thank you for your trust in me to lead this profession, especially at such a critical time for our patients and our healthcare system.

For those of you who may not know me, I want to share my PA story with you . . .  to tell you a little about myself, my leadership philosophy and my vision for this profession.

My parents came to the United States in the 1960s, and I was born in Washington, D.C. However, my father received an opportunity to work in Nigeria – so I spent much of my childhood there. In Nigeria, I witnessed the very apparent poverty that can often, unfortunately, be found in underdeveloped countries. Experiencing firsthand the challenges of access to quality healthcare in less-than-ideal conditions profoundly impacted my perspective and ultimately influenced my career path.

At a very young age, I contracted typhoid fever – and at one point during my treatment, I needed an IV. The provider had trouble inserting it in my vein and needed to insert it into my temple instead. That is a significant moment that has stayed with me. I am keenly aware that, at that moment, if I had a different healthcare provider, the outcome could have been very different. That formative experience taught me the importance of advanced, high-quality care. Not to mention, it demonstrated that the excellent care of one individual can save a life.

When I returned to the United States sometime later, I joined the Army as a medic and was stationed with a PA who became my mentor. During my time with him, he taught me about the values of the PA profession, the importance of service, and the impact of giving back to your community. Immediately, I knew that was the career-long mission I wanted to embrace, so I finished my commitment to the military and became a PA. I haven’t looked back since!

As I completed the PA program at Howard University, it became clear to me that I wanted to do more than just practice clinically: I wanted to explore healthcare delivery and leadership. So, I went on to earn my master’s in public health and my doctorate in organizational leadership.

Fast forward to today; I have 23 years of experience in healthcare administration and clinical urology practice. Currently, I am the administrator of practice management at Florida Health Care Plans, where I oversee and am responsible for the clinical operations of 23 ambulatory multi-specialty practices and one ambulatory surgery center in five counties. I am also adjunct faculty at the Butler University Doctor of Medical Science program.

Over the years, my career and life’s journey have been shaped by many strong mentors and leaders, and I have done my best to emulate the qualities I most admire and respect in each of them. I have intentionally served as a volunteer leader whenever possible. I have served on several AAPA committees, including the Title Change Advisory Committee, the Commission on Research and Strategic Initiatives, and the Commission on the Health of the Public. For the last ten years, I have served in the AAPA House of Delegates and am involved in both PAs for Global Health and the African Heritage PA Caucus.

My own personal journey has greatly influenced the core of my vision for this profession: that every PA and PA student feel empowered to step up as a leader. We have never needed bold leaders as much as we do today, to care and advocate for the patients we serve. We need PAs who will step up – to take a seat at the table and, if there isn’t a seat, pull up a chair.

This leadership doesn’t have to look the same for everyone. In fact, it shouldn’t. Each of us has something unique to offer based on our experiences, our areas of expertise, and our perspectives on the world.

We all have to find the leadership avenues that make the most sense for us. Everyone has a career, a family, and personal commitments, and it may not be possible to take on a significant leadership role within a constituent organization or AAPA. And that’s OK! You can be a leader within your community or your practice. You can lead by telling your story, the PA story and spreading the word that PAs Go Beyond.

You can even lead by serving as a mentor for a student or an early career PA. Mentorship has been incredibly important to my career, and it’s near and dear to my heart. Those of us who are more established in our careers need to commit to reaching back to the next generation of PAs, to offer a hand to help guide them on their journey. Sharing our knowledge, our experience, our expertise, and the paths we have cleared for them will only help to build a pipeline of enthusiastic, committed leaders who will take us into the future.

Jennifer Orozco and Folusho E. Ogunfiditimi at AAPA 2023

That future depends so much on how we, at this moment, advocate for our patients and our profession. I am a strong believer in demonstrating the value of PAs – the value we bring to employers in terms of productivity and financial viability. Our recent AAPA-Harris Poll survey found that patients who have a relationship with a PA are more likely to give their healthcare an A grade compared to those without a PA relationship (37% vs. 26%). Other research has shown that PAs can see a substantial number of patients each day, improving access to care and reducing wait times, and that PAs contribute to increased revenue for healthcare organizations. Research like this is an essential part of demonstrating our value, along with advocacy from individual PAs who are committed to demonstrating what our contributions to the healthcare system are worth.

The strength of this organization and this profession is in its volunteer leaders everywhere, not just on the Board of Directors. Our goal, as always, is to advance high-quality, patient-centered, team-based care. That goal is one we can only accomplish if we all rise to the challenge and step up to lead together in our unique ways to build a movement.

Through all the opportunities that lie ahead, I look forward to collaborating with and hearing from you over the next year. Please know that my door is always open.

Folusho E. Ogunfiditimi, DM, MPH, PA-C, DFAAPA, is the president and chair of the American Academy of Physician Associates.

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