X

Spotlight Archive

Bridging the Healthcare Gap through Service

Posted: September 2017

Certified PA Lindsay Spencer wanted to do more than just deliver healthcare as a profession. She wanted to use her PA knowledge and skills to bring care to a community where a healthcare system didn’t exist. This summer she joined an interprofessional team of healthcare providers to deliver care and education to 678 people in the Tierra Blanca Mountain Range of rural Guatemala.

In addition to herself, the care team included physicians, nurses, EMTs, pharmacists, and a dentist; and the team addressed an array of needs, including patients with malnutrition, diabetes, congestive heart failure (CHF), seizure disorders, infections, and STDs. Not only did they diagnose medical conditions and distribute medications, but health education about prevention was also key. The team also helped patients get fitted for eyeglasses, and future work will include additional oral health education and screenings, as well as fluoride varnish application.

One of the project’s greatest contributions was helping to establish a system to allow community members to continue receiving care. This new free medical clinic will be supported by a local public health nurse, doctor and dentist; and another group of healthcare volunteers are anticipated to travel back to the region next year. Lindsay plans on being among them. “Personally, being able to stand in the gap of poverty,” she shared, “and help those that are suffering became something I know will become a regular part of my career as a physician assistant.”

Lindsay believes the project not only helped an underserved population, but helped her to grow as a healthcare provider. The outreach project was partially funded by the nccPA Health Foundation’s Be the Change grant program.

PA Lindsay Spencer conducts health clinic with another healthcare provider

Village house in Guatemala


PA Students Deliver Foot Care to Local Shelter

Posted: August 2017

Thirty Quinnipiac PA students participated in two foot clinics at the Grand Avenue Men’s Shelter where 28 shelter residents were served. Started by two PA students, the Quinnipiac University Foot Clinic has provided a way for medically vulnerable populations to receive foot care in New Haven, Connecticut since 2013. The student-managed clinic seeks to diagnose and address foot infections, painful dysfunction, and dermatological issues.

Quinnipiac PA students learn firsthand the benefits of interprofessional relationships by working with a collaborative student care team. The students represented medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nursing and work with the guidance of a volunteer podiatrist. Through patient interviews, physical exams and podiatric care, the students put communication and clinical skills into practice.

Shelter residents received such interventions as callus reduction, wound dressing, topical medication application, and monofilament exams for neuropathy. An integral part of the students’ outreach was donating items that could help shelter residents maintain or facilitate their foot wellness; such items included shoes and socks, foot powder, and anti-fungal cream. The students plan to hold three additional clinics this year.

“At the Quinnipiac University Foot Clinic at the Grand Avenue Men’s Shelter, we provided a valuable and underappreciated service to an underserved population,” shared Quinnipiac PA student Jennifer Bellucci. “I found great reward in providing this needed healthcare. Seeing the gratitude on the men’s faces by simply providing a pair of socks or addressing a small foot ailment is a humbling yet fulfilling experience.”

Quinnipiac students are not only committed to sustaining the foot clinic, but are committed to expanding services beyond the clinic. By establishing relationships with two community health centers, the clinic has made it possible for former shelter residents to receive treatment for both their feet and overall health beyond shelter stays.

This Quinnipiac Foot Clinic project was supported with funding from the nccPA Health Foundation’s Be the CHANGE grant program.

 

Students performing nail debridement and collecting data through patient interviewing.

Display of shoes and other giveaway items that are provided to the residents of the shelter after completing a podiatric assessment and exam.


Brushing Up on Oral Health

Posted: June 2017

Roughly 100 elementary students were taught proper hygiene and habits to promote good oral health through a project spearheaded by the Lake Erie College (LEC) PA Program in Painesville, Ohio and supported by the Lake County Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) organization.

 

PA students partnered with “Big Brothers Big Sisters” to bring oral health education to four local public schools that currently had BBBS afterschool programs. The PA-led community outreach project consisted of building four learning stations where students could learn the proper way to brush their teeth, fun facts about teeth, the best diets and nutrition to keep teeth healthy, and the harms of tobacco. At each station, students viewed a tri-fold presentation and received health educational materials to take home. They also participated in an educational activity designed to make their learning experience engaging. Additionally, toothpaste, toothbrush or floss was placed in each student’s oral health activity bag before the student moved from one station to another.

 

“Not many young people know the importance of oral health, so I believe it is our duty as health care professionals to educate them on this subject. I believe our oral health program will have a lasting impact on children’s and hopefully even their parents’ oral hygiene,” shared LEC PA student, Ashlee Grow.

 

In its first year, this PA-led outreach was featured in The News Herald. To sustain the program, the LEC PA faculty will work with the “Community Outreach Chair” elected from the incoming 2019 PA class. 

PA students teach why it’s important to brush properly through a “white egg experiment"

PA students explain the impact of nutrition on oral health


Healthy Living on Budget

Posted: May 2017

PA students at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) are taking healthcare where it’s needed the most in Galveston, Texas, and have served nearly 180 individuals. “Healthy Living on a Budget” is a product of UTMB’s PA Studies Community Outreach Committee and was supported with funding from the nccPA Health Foundation’s Be the CHANGE grant program. 

For the project, PA students team up with students from UTMB’s Clinical Laboratory Science(CLS) program to provide health screenings and education to community members served by the Galveston County Food Bank and at local health fairs.

Under the guidance of UTMB PA and CLS faculty, PA and CLS students screen community members for hypertension and high cholesterol every second Saturday of the month. Screened individuals are counseled and given information on diet, physical activity, and healthy lifestyle choices. Those needing further evaluation and care are referred to a local health clinic where free or reduced cost health services are available. 

"Our motive for beginning Healthy Living on a Budget stemmed from a desire to practice newly learned physical exam and health counseling skills outside of the classroom while, at the same time, giving back to the Galveston community." Kate Corbin, UTMB PA Student.

To sustain “Healthy Living on a Budget” and ensure continuity in how services are delivered, the PA students with the assistance of a UTMB videographer created a video for current and future student volunteers. (Watch here.) The video not only instructs students on how to use medical equipment; but it also gives instructions on how to conduct patient counseling and document patient outcomes.

The PA Studies Community Outreach Committee will continue to work with UTMB’s CLS program, and plans to expand its interprofessional collaboration to include UTMB’s Nutrition and Metabolism Department.

PA student, Sara Brizina, taking the blood pressure of GCFB employee, Mr. AJ Larson

PA and CLS students provide counseling and cholesterol screening to community members


Health Screenings for the Homeless

Posted: March 2017

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) PA program brought together students across health profession disciplines to provide healthcare to The Firehouse Shelter – a facility serving homeless men in the Birmingham metropolitan area.

Twice a month, Firehouse clients are screened for hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and other health issues. In the project's first year, 96 PA students and almost 200 students from other health professions (physical therapy, occupational therapy, clinical lab science, nutrition science and health care administration) provided care at the clinic. During this time, the team delivered care to 185 individuals.

UAB anticipates turning its health screening project into a sustainable program that will continue to deliver healthcare to one of Birmingham’s most vulnerable population. The project has proven to be invaluable not only to the men who receive healthcare, but also to the students who deliver that care.

"My mother used to work at a local women's shelter so I spent a lot of time working with her," said PA student, Ebony Bates. "Seeing first-hand how basic preventative healthcare can be overlooked due to stress of being homeless, encouraged me to do outreach in the hope that I could help play a role in making sure that those needs were met."

The Firehouse project received a 2017 Health Excellence in Interprofessional Education Collaboration Honorable Mention in the caring for at risk and vulnerable communities category. The recognition, a joint effort between the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) and Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC), is presented to a team of health professional students and/or faculty whose interdisciplinary work has significantly impacted community health. Congratulations!

The Firehouse project received a 2017 Health Excellence in Interprofessional Education Collaboration Honorable Mention in the caring for at risk and vulnerable communities category. The recognition, a joint effort between the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) and Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC), is presented to a team of health professional students and/or faculty whose interdisciplinary work has significantly impacted community health. Congratulations!

UAB PA student Christophe Jackson works with a client. After his first day at the clinic, Jackson shared his thoughts, "One, we are all connected and the opportunities to serve are paramount to the health of the community. Two, differences in beliefs, socioeconomics, or creed may arise, however, my purpose as a PA is to be a patient advocate, treat them with dignity and respect, listen and offer the very best medical care possible. Three, people matter."

PA Educator, James Kilgore , (left) with UAB PA students Christina Pardinas, Kristin Bourg, Bellamy Hawkins, Christophe Jackson and Kelley Swatzell, DrPH host a clinic at The Firehouse Shelter.


Mercyhurst PA program hosts Dental Day at Carpe Diem Academy

Posted: December 2016

Eighteen PA and five dental students participated in an oral health community outreach event at an elementary school that reached more than 60 inner-city kids.

Mercyhurst’s PA Program teamed up with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) School of Dental Medicine to integrate oral health into the PA curriculum and to provide screenings and education at Carpe Diem Academy, a Mercyhurst-sponsored afterschool program.

To foster interprofessional education, dental faculty provided instruction about the relationship between oral health and systemic health as well as hands on experience performing basic oral health procedures such as the pediatric oral examination and fluoride varnish application.

“It is important that proper dental care is integrated into medical care,” said Marcie Fitzgerald, MPAS, PA-C, clinical director of the Mercyhurst PA program. “We are on the frontlines of medicine, and we need to make sure that children are getting the proper care and referrals to dentists.”

The dental and PA students then conducted screenings for dental caries and risk assessments for developing caries at Carpe Diem Academy. Through interactive activities, the children were taught about fluoride, proper hygiene, and diet; and each child was given a gift bag to practice healthy habits at home. Parents and caregivers were provided educational materials on pediatric oral health as well as dental referrals for their children, if needed.

“Oral health is not only done by the dentist, but now needs to be part of family practice and routine yearly visits,” said Alyssa Byerly, participating Mercyhurst PA student.

The Mercyhurst PA Program looks forward to continuing their relationship with LECOM Dental School and bring “Dental Day” back to the community. This project was supported by an nccPA Health Foundation grant that was part of the PA Leadership Initiative in Oral Health. The initiative is supported by the NIIOH and its funders the DentaQuest Foundation and Washington Dental Service Foundation.

 

Mercyhurst PA program hosts “Dental Day” at Carpe Diem Academy.


UTMB PA students create superhero hideout

Posted: September 2016

Thirty PA students volunteered a total of 300 hours to be the change and bring hope to patients and families at the Ronald McDonald House in Galveston, Texas. Watch this time-lapse video of the transformation to create a Superhero Hideout.

Be the Change grant recipient Wendy Carazo knew from her PA class’s regular outreach activities that the Ronald McDonald House had sustained repeated water damage from hurricanes and others storms. While the damage was repairable, doing so stripped the themed patient rooms and other decorations designed to energize and support families and patients. Recognizing this need, Carazo and her UTMB classmates took action to support their community.

“The children staying at the Ronald McDonald House have demonstrated how strong they are by persevering through their illness. It is our hope that having a special place to ‘hideout’ will help them be confident and brave during their journey to recovery,” said Carazo, UTMB PA Class of 2017. “Plus, through our ongoing involvement with RMH, we are exemplifying our profession’s commitment to being community leaders and promoting the positive impact of PAs.”

This project is an extension of the RMH’s mission of providing a safe and supportive environment for families going through the hardship of caring for a sick child. By decorating a room with symbols associated with courage, the UTMB students hope to empower the children to be confident and brave during their journey to recovery. The resiliency these children and their families display demonstrates that they are truly the superheroes in their own story. We hope the children who stay in the “Superhero Hideout” feel like superheroes and find the strength to overcome their illness.

(Top left to right) Paige Savage, Ashley White, Krystal Carpenter, Julia Case, Forest Trager, Josh Baker, Spencer Anderson, Ashley Unaegbu, Erin Sharpe, Beth Thompson, Stacey Frerich, Heather Cox, Lexie Aldridge, Shama Shaukatali (Bottom left to right) Hannah Ausloos, Lauren Habern, Avalynn Ly, Haley Kemp, Wendy Carazo, Elizabeth Knipp, Danielle Williams, Marlene Martinez, Tiffany Du, Carina Cure, Victoria Rios.


Samuel Merritt PA Students Makes a Change.

Posted: June 2016

Be the CHANGE grant recipient and PA student Jessica Warner and her first-year PA classmates from Samuel Merritt University made a change to improve health by running a medical clinic in the rural, mountainous community of Batata, Panama. They were joined in this interdisciplinary trip by nursing and physical therapy providers and students.

During the three-day clinic, 486 patients were seen; and most patients were treated for musculoskeletal and respiratory complaints. Additional community members will be reached through the patient education materials left at the school where the clinic was held.

The nearest permanent medical clinic is eight hours away on foot, and most residents do not have access to the necessary transportation. As a result, the SMU medical clinic, now in its fourth year, provides the primary source of health care for the community.

“The trip made me feel more confident as a budding medical provider, and it was so incredible to help people in such a remote area,” said Warner. “I look forward to continuing to be the change for health in my PA studies and in my future practice."

First-year PA students and Samuel Merritt PA Program Director ran a three-day medical clinic in Panama. Front row (L-R): PA students Jessica Warner, Ellen Mendoza, Padmaja Murtinty, Diana Ha. Back row (L- R): PA students Peter May, Beverly Carlos, Patrick Ohsann, and Michael DeRosa MPH, PhD, PA-C, Assistant Professor/Department Chair.

Community members lined up outside the school building while waiting to be seen by the PAs and other health providers who had set-up the clinic.


Healthy Teeth, Healthy Smiles!

Posted: May 2016

During AAPA Conference 2016 in San Antonio, TX, two PAs and three PA students volunteered alongside five dental students from the UT Health Science Center School of Dentistry to put on an oral health education event at The Children’s Shelter, a safe haven for homeless/displaced children in the San Antonio Area.

The children live, have meals, and attend school on site. The education event utilized the Pediatric Oral Health Toolkit designed by the SAAAPA Oral Health Task Force (2015-2016) and reached 20 children ranging from 2 to 14 years old. The children were taught about good nutrition and proper oral hygiene practices.

These activities were part of the Physician Assistant Leadership Initiative in Oral Health, a profession-wide movement that brings together leaders and students from across PA national organizations and educational programs to expand integration of oral health in PA practice. Interprofessional collaboration with the dental students allowed the professions to learn from and with each other setting the foundation for interprofessional practice. PAs and PA students can play an important role in eradicating dental disease, through screening, prevention and referral for patients with oral disease.


Smile Detroit

Posted: May 2016

Four health professions students. Two universities. One big idea.

When students and faculty from the University of Detroit Mercy and Wayne State University tried to envision a way to learn together about oral health, Students of Michigan for Interprofessional and Leadership Education (SMILE) Detroit was created.

Funded through an oral health community outreach grant, SMILE Detroit brought together Theresa Gattari, WSU Medical School; Rami Nazarian, UDM Dental School; Kendall Gjetaj, WSU PA program; and Sylvia Hang, RDH, UDM PA program (left to right in picture at right) to design and lead a pilot program to increase interprofessionalism between health professions students through education and promotion of oral health. In February, the SMILE Detroit team hosted an oral health huddle, which consisted of case studies on the impact of oral conditions on overall health and disease, followed by an oral health bootcamp, where students rotated through a series of interactive exercises to lean the oral exam, the application of fluoride varnish, and how to provide oral health instruction to patients.

The students presented their work at the University of Detroit Mercy’s Celebration of Research and Scholarship in April, and plans are underway to replicate and expand the program with future classes of health professions students.


PA-Led TOOTH Program Brings Oral Health Education to Texas Elementary Schools

Posted: February 2016

Grant recipient and PA student Kelsey Berg and her classmates at the University of Texas Medical Branch are making a change with their Teaching Others Oral Treatments and Health (TOOTH) program. The program teaches children about why oral health is important to overall health as well as about brushing and flossing.

The program reached more than 130 children in 2015. Berg replicated the successful outreach event to include an additional 150 children at a local elementary school in February 2016 for Oral Health month. To make the program's expansion possible, Berg turned the event into an interprofessional outreach that included first and second year PA students, nursing students, and a respiratory therapy student, all from UTMB. The success of the TOOTH program is catching; and Berg and her classmates have been invited to bring the program to a local senior center and a community health fair later this year.

PA, nursing, and respiratory therapy students participate in interprofessional Teaching Others Oral Treatments and Health (TOOTH) program during Oral Health month in February 2016.