AAPA/PAEA Preceptor of the Year


In August 1995, David Day, EdS, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, CPAAPA, became a preceptor just one month after graduating from PA school. “Even as a new graduate, I felt that I needed to give back to my profession, and this was a way I could do that,” he says. Twenty-two years later, Day, who has been praised by past PA students for his ability to help them grow in their profession, is the recipient of the AAPA/PAEA Preceptor of the Year Award.

Growing up in a small town of 1,800 people in Western Kansas, Day fell into the medical field at age 16 when he became an aide for a local hospital. He took the job simply because he needed one and there weren’t that many options in his community. In 1983, he became a licensed practical nurse; five years later, he had progressed to a registered nurse. Then one day, Day was talking to another nurse who was applying to PA school. “I thought, ‘I can do that,’” he says. “The rest is history.”

Day completed the PA program at Wichita State University (WSU) in 1995. He took on his first student as a clinical preceptor in emergency medicine while working as a clinical field coordinator for WSU, and continued in this role even after moving on to a faculty position with the university.

More Than 50 PA Students

Then, in 2009, when Day left WSU to work in primary care and emergency medicine at Trego County-Lemke Memorial Hospital—a 25-bed critical access health care facility in western Kansas—part of his employment agreement was that he be allowed to provide a clinical training site for the WSU PA Program. Since then, Day has worked with more than 50 PA students, as well as several nurse practitioner students.

At Trego County-Lemke Memorial Hospital, Day precepts students for five-to-six-week rotations, and the students work his schedule of 60 hours per week. Shortly after students arrive, Day sits down with them to talk about their goals and to get a feel for their clinical skill level. “Then I can facilitate their advancing to wherever they need to be for their next [rotation],” he says. Day also asks students about the areas of medicine they are interested in, and then tries to get them experience in those areas. For example, Trego County-Lemke Memorial Hospital, which is located in a rural area, brings in consultants in cardiology, orthopedics, and general surgery to handle specialty cases. So if a student is interested in one of those areas, “I’ll send [them] with those guys for a day or two to get a little bit more of that training from the rural perspective,” Day says.

‘Refreshing to Have Independence’

Teal Sander, PA-C, was a student with Day for several weeks in late 2015. She says that of all her rotations, her time with Day afforded her the most hands-on experience. Day allowed Sander to interview and evaluate patients, then present her assessment and plan to him before he saw the patient. “That was kind of refreshing to have some independence,” says Sander, who is now a PA at Russell Regional Hospital in Russell, Kansas. With Day’s guidance, Sander was also able to do a variety of procedures, including incision and drainage, well-woman exams, knee and shoulder injections, and intubating a patient.

Sander was also inspired that Day, who, along with his wife, a pediatric nurse, has been a foster parent for nearly 20 years, also volunteers to be a member of his hospital’s EMS service, which makes it possible for the facility to have an advanced cardiac life support team available. “He not only works full-time and does ER coverage, but then he’s coming back on all these runs when he’s off. I thought that was really amazing,” she says.

With such a full schedule, why has Day continued to volunteer as a preceptor for two decades? For him, the answer is simple. “I like to help students progress in the field of medicine,” he says.

AAPA 2017 Award Recipients