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It’s all About the Mission

October 15, 2012

The mission of the PA Department at the College of Nursing and Health Professions is twofold: to educate Physician Assistants to work in medically underserved areas and to promote the PA profession.

Faculty members unanimously share that their students are looking for ways to volunteer or get involved in efforts to serve low-income, rural, or medically underserved communities from the day they first walk through the door. The College’s PA Program has cultivated a strong service focus and therefore draws a certain type of person to apply, a person who is service-minded, compassionate, and committed to helping people in need. Because this program is the oldest in the city, the Department has formed many relationships with local agencies and health care organizations in rural and urban settings, allowing students to gain exposure to different settings during a variety of clinical rotation opportunities. Rosalie Coppola and Gretchen Fox, who have been teaching in the program for two decades, said “We’ve been around here long enough to see the evolution of the program. Because, as a program, we’ve been around so long, we have long-term relationships with preceptors. We have rotations that have been around for quite some time and are well-established. We have many graduates out there working as PAs, too.”

Both faculty and students promote the profession as much as possible, always keeping that piece of their mission in mind as they progress through their careers. For example, a group of faculty members traveled together to the Walter Reid Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to talk with active members of the military about options they have to become Physician Assistants in the future. Current students are involved in the interview process for future PA classes, which not only generates helpful feedback for faculty decision makers, but also allows students to advocate for the profession and talk to the incoming class about their choice to become a Physician Assistant. “There’s a sense of responsibility instilled in the student because we see them as very involved and invested in the future of the program and the profession. This ties directly to our mission to promote the profession as much as possible,” said Julie Kinzel, a PA Department instructor.

“Our mission speaks a lot to the type of students we tend to draw,” she continued. “Our goal is to serve the medically underserved and the work of our Student Society shows the students’ commitment to that philosophy or that mission.”