Colonel Amy Jackson, PA-C, current DMSc student, is making history. In July 2020, she took command of Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point, becoming the first PA to do so in the organization’s history.
COL Jackson has set several priorities for the next two years in command. Her first priority is to serve her organization. “I have seen a shift in my leadership style since entering into this role. I am redesigning my style in flight, in order to meet the requirements of my position in this executive role.”
A second priority is providing access to care for the West Point community. Colonel Jackson says a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic operational environment is the enhanced utilization of virtual healthcare delivery. “About 40% of our encounters are virtual, which has been a convenience for patients and a step in the right direction to help patients continue to manage their health conditions. Patients may follow up more frequently given the convenience of receiving a call direct to their phone in the comfort of their home. Plus, our pharmacy technicians have completed over 7,000 deliveries of medication to the parking lot, thus reducing contact with any potentially symptomatic patients. It is critical that access to care is number one for our patient community. Virtual healthcare appointments have made access possible in the COVID environment.”
Another priority for Colonel Jackson is building community. “I recognize that I am just one person. In order to achieve our institutional goals, we have to work as a team. All of us have to all be rowing in the same direction. Working collectively, we can achieve positive transformation as an organization, and we can take it to the next level. I am focused on creating relationships and building a collective effort.”
To create opportunity for cohesive relationships, she has initiated team building events, and has established a strategic planning conference for the fall, with the purpose of identifying a strategy for the organization over the next two years. “We intend to analyze and validate our mission and vision, chart a path to achieve long term goals and objectives, and develop action plans for those goals and objectives.”
Colonel Jackson says successful planning for the future at this level begins with an emphasis on culture and people. “Our people are our greatest asset and strength. The next step in planning for the future is to understand the environment and the mission and vision of our higher headquarters, and be prepared to operate and succeed in dynamic and ambiguous scenarios.”
“I recognize diversity is a strength across our organization. The U.S. Army is a true melting pot – we are by nature a diverse organization! We honor all people; we give them the dignity and respect that they deserve as valued members of a squad and team. People need to hear this from their leadership. I decided to share my story with my “squad” so they might understand me, where I come from, and how we share commonality and differences alike.”
Her community forums, called Tree Talks, provide a platform for soldiers to voice any issues they may have noticed or experienced. “I am genuinely interested in making things better. I am taking the opportunity to meet people in order to make genuine connections. I expect that these connections will afford me the opportunity to take care of those who follow me, as I believe this is why leaders are entrusted with the responsibility and authority of command.”
It has only been 90 days, but Jackson is off to a running start, representing PAs at the executive level of leadership and medicine.