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Passing the Mic

May 3, 2021

Adrian Banning, DHSc, MMS, PA-C, and Kristopher Maday, MS, PA-C, DFAAPA, created and have been hosting the JAAPA podcast for four years. The pair met through social media, pitched the idea to JAAPA, and with support throughout the community, have produced nearly 60 episodes since 2017. Now they are handing over the mics to the next hosting duo, two Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions Physician Assistant program alumni.

Lena Ward, MHS '19, PA-C, is one of the two new hosts of the JAAPA podcast.Recognizing the many opportunities they have had to educate through the podcast, Banning and Maday are ready to leave what they built to Lena Ward '19 and Brandon Cherry '19. Ward is from Salisbury, Maryland, and attended Drexel’s accelerated health sciences/PA five-year program. She decided to become a PA after a chance encounter with one of her elementary school teachers. As a guest speaker during a vocational program Ward attended, she heard her former teacher talk about the drastic career shift from fifth grade teacher to PA and was inspired. In addition to her full-time job, Ward also leads a Drexel alumni group, PA Minority Alliance (PAMA), follow them on Instagram. PAMA’s mission is to improve academic success and decrease attrition rates of minority students within the PA program. “As a student and now as a working PA, I have always been one of the few Black people in the room, which I have learned to adapt to. Unfortunately, there are not many Black PAs, and on rotations, I still wouldn’t see attending physicians, resident physicians or other PAs or medical students who looked like me,” Ward said.

Brandon Cherry, MHS '19, PA-C, is one of the two new hosts of the JAAPA podcast.Cherry grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and attended Johns Hopkins University as an undergraduate student. He had an innate interest in medicine but was not aware of the breadth of medical professions he could choose until his senior year of high school. Through an internship program, he shadowed a multitude of medical personnel and learned about the many different career options there were. He did his research and decided to become a PA. He attended Drexel University’s PA program, where he met Banning as a professor and Ward as a classmate. Like Ward, he enjoyed PA school, particularly the relationships he cultivated with his classmates and professors, as well as the academic challenge.

Banning approached Ward and Cherry with the exciting opportunity, knowing they would be perfect for it. “Hosting the podcast – in addition to work responsibilities – takes passion and the capacity to make time for something you feel strongly about. Both Lena and Brandon demonstrated that when they were students and since,” Banning said. “Lena is a phenomenal connector and communicator. She gets things done. Brandon has deep experiences in public health and underserved communities and has always had an easy way of recognizing that each issue has many sides. What more could you ask for in people who will translate the issues of the profession in audio format?” Banning added.

Maday and Banning are each at different places in their careers now. “We both see the importance of shared leadership and in elevating fresh voices—especially voices that have been marginalized by the PA profession. So while it’s a little bittersweet to leave something as great as this behind, it’s exciting to think about what Lena and Brandon will do with it,” Banning shared.

“I’m a committed lifelong learner,” Cherry said to Ward added, “It’s important to take time to study the topics I’m seeing in practice and the JAAPA podcast is a fun and engaging way to do that.”

These PA Dragons take over the podcast in early 2021. To read the AAPA's write up, click here. 

By John Michael (JM) Szczepaniak-Gillece and Roberta S. Perry