More Than Just PA School: 29 PA Programs Perform Community Service

Highlights from Community Health Events Around the Country

November 1, 2019

PA Week is not just a time to celebrate the profession, but for PAs and PA students to give back to their communities. PA Student Service Week, an initiative started by the Student Academy, promotes PA student participation in community service during PA Week. Nearly 30 PA programs participated in 2019’s PA Student Service Week!

The Service Committee wanted to encourage PA program participation in PA Student Service Week and came up with a new regional participation contest for 2019. The South Central Region won this year’s inaugural contest with participation from the following PA programs: Baylor College of Medicine, University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of Oklahoma-Oklahoma City, University of Texas Medical Branch, and the University of Texas Southwestern. Congratulations to the South Central Region!

Check out PA Student Service Week highlights from the six Student Academy regions, and start thinking about how your program can get involved next year!

[Student Academy President Appoints Student Board Committee Members]

Tufts University PA students
Tufts University PA students

Northeast Region
Tufts University, Massachusetts

Tufts held two events during PA Student Service Week: a neighborhood cleanup and a blood drive. A group of 23 students split into three groups and picked up trash, swept streets in the neighborhood, and helped with a project called Chinatown Backyard. Chinatown Backyard works to convert an old lot into a community garden and gathering area. The blood drive had 17 total donors (many whom were students from the Tufts program) and students volunteered to sign in donors. 

George Washington University PA students
George Washington University PA students

Mid-Atlantic Region
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

GW PA students organized three different service opportunities throughout the week to best fit their cohort’s various schedules and interests. At the D.C. Central Kitchen, some students spent the afternoon prepping vegetables, slicing bread, and assembling meals for distribution to local service agencies across the D.C. metro area. They also helped organize an information session about the PA career for GWU undergraduates, and a group of PA students served as panelists during the Q&A. The final volunteer opportunity involved helping lead an evening soccer clinic as part of D.C.’s Dreams for Kids, a local organization dedicated to providing an inclusive experience for disabled children.

Meredith Mock, a GW PA student, said: “As part of PA Student Service Week, I spent time at the D.C. Central Kitchen. I loved the opportunity to meet and learn from other community leaders in D.C. doing important work. Since our class organized a few different service opportunities, we had the chance to share our individual experiences with one another. I would absolutely encourage anyone to participate in a service event – you get back ten times more than you give!”

[Volunteering in Immokalee, Florida: Finding My Purpose in Medicine] 

Florida Gulf Coast University PA students
Florida Gulf Coast University PA students

Southeast Region
Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida

FGCU PA students traveled an hour away to the Collier County Health Department in Immokalee, Florida to assist the Naples and Bonita Springs Lions Club with diabetes, vision, and hearing screenings. Together they were able to screen more than 70 individuals who otherwise would not have access to these basic healthcare services.

Florida Gulf University PA student Brandon Peterson said, “During our didactic year, it is easy to be distracted with our rigorous curriculum, trying to learn how to practice medicine, but events like these remind us why we first wanted to pursue a career in medicine and in helping others.” 

Dubuque University PA students
Dubuque University PA students

North Central Region
University of Dubuque, Iowa

PA students from UD partnered with St. Luke’s/Unity Point clinics at the Dubuque Kids Expo to hold a Teddy Bear Clinic.  The PA students performed well-child visits on teddy bears to get children more familiar with some of the tools and procedures during a well-child visit to make the experience less stressful.

“The UDPA program is very new so many of the residents of Dubuque aren’t aware of what a PA is, let alone that our program is in the city. These community events give us more exposure for education and advocacy for the profession as well as promote health and wellness within the community,” said UD PA student Tim Treloar.

[PA Program Works to Alleviate Provider Shortages in Rural Michigan]

UT Medical Branch PA students
UT Medical Branch PA students

South Central Region
University of Texas Medical Branch, Texas

The second Saturday of every month, a local food drive distributes free food and supplies to the community for about two hours. The UT Medical Branch PA program has a service initiative called Healthy Living on a Budget, where they set up multiple stations for primary care education to the community members attending. PA students take blood pressures, calculate BMIs, test blood sugars, and much more. This is all overseen by a faculty member, who instructs students how to properly educate and relay information to the community members who participate.

UT Medical Branch PA student Dan Donley said, “My favorite part was reaching out and attempting to change someone’s life with a simple conversation. Students should participate in PA Student Service Week because it will inspire them! It will remind them why they are working so hard and what waits after graduation.”

University of Washington MEDEX-Anchorage campus PA students
University of Washington MEDEX-Anchorage campus PA students

Western Region
University of Washington MEDEX-Anchorage campus, Alaska

PA students from the Anchorage campus gathered and delivered donations to Brother Francis Shelter in Anchorage, Alaska. Donated items include winter clothing, games, and food. PA students personally prepared food donations.

“It gives people an opportunity to go out into the community and help others. We went inside Brother Francis Shelter to pass out donations. I had a large bag of crosswords and playing cards and I really enjoyed giving out the playing cards. When we were outside, I had a bag of hats and socks and I enjoyed being able to put hats on people’s heads as many did not have proper items to stay warm. It was very rewarding,” said University of Washington PA student Star Sakis.

[PA Students Give Back to Local Communities]

For more information about the Service Committee members and committee charges, visit the Student Board Committee page.

Meet Other PAs Who Give Back to Their Communities
PAs Deliver Healthcare to U.S. Asylum-Seeking Immigrant Families
Once an Interpreter, PA Now Serves Spanish-Speaking Population
Right Time, Right Place: PA Saves a Life