Preceptor of the Year

Kenneth D. Sherry, PA-C, CPAAPA

PA Preceptor Sherry Supports Students and Community

PA Ken Sherry has been a PA preceptor for more than 30 years, mentoring an estimated 250 students from nine different programs. In 2012, he brought PA students to St Luke’s University Health Network Miners Campus to improve healthcare in the underserved community of Carbon County, Pennsylvania. He is the 2018 AAPA/Physician Assistant Education Association Preceptor of the Year.

The Preceptor of the Year Award is presented each year to a PA who has demonstrated a commitment to excellence in the clinical education of PA students as a mentor and instructor.

Sherry began his career in 1986 as a PA at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, now known as Lehigh Valley Schuylkill Medical Center, in Pottsville, Pennslyvania where he worked alongside PA students in the operating room and in all aspects of patient care. PA Christine Bruce was in charge of the entire preceptor program at the hospital until she left in 1992 and Sherry took over mentoring PA students on a regular basis.

Bringing Students to the Miners Campus

Sherry was the head of the preceptor program at Good Samaritan until 2011, when he was approached by St Luke’s Hospital Network (SLHN) about a full time position at their Miners Campus. Miners Campus serves the rural mining community of Carbon County, Pennsylvania, a federally designated Medically Underserved Area (MUA). The 44-bed hospital was facing a major provider shortage, but unable to find any physicians to work in the area.

When Sherry started at Miners Campus, there were no medical students at the hospital, but he set out to change that.

“I talked to my supervisor and said, ‘We can turn Miners Campus into an organized small hospital rotation, where the students get more personal experience and more direct hands-on contact,’” Sherry said.

Under Sherry’s guidance, Miners Campus began its first PA student preceptor program in 2012. Originally, the program was only open for surgery students, but Sherry created a program for internal medicine after a request from his former co-worker, Bruce. Sherry oversees both of these rotations for the students.

Sherry’s influence can be seen throughout the hospital. Miners Campus now utilizes several types of students from local medical and nursing colleges and campuses. The students benefit from the unique experience they receive at a small hospital where they know all the providers and get real hands-on experience.

“A lot of times students get lost in the shuffle, but here they don’t have to feel like we’re not interested in having them,” Sherry said. “We’re here to help them.”

Improving Access to Care in an Underserved Community

Not only has Sherry made an impact on these students, but he has changed healthcare for the Carbon County community. For a hospital facing a serious provider shortage, students provide invaluable support to patients in the community.

“Once we started bringing students on board and I think it improved patient satisfaction,” Sherry said. “You have more people taking interest in their care.”

Promotion of the Profession

The PA profession itself has also benefitted from Sherry’s precepting program. By creating experienced practitioners and satisfied patients, he is elevating PAs everywhere.

“We do this out of the love for the promotion of the profession,” he said.

AAPA 2018 Award Recipients