2020 Outstanding Student Society Focuses on Expanding Access to Care

Case Western Reserve University PA Students Go Above and Beyond to Serve Community

By Sarah Blugis

April 27, 2020

Photo of the Case Western Reserve University PA Program faculty and Class of 2021
Case Western Reserve University PA Program faculty and Class of 2021

Last year, students in the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) PA program wanted to set themselves apart. As a relatively new program, they wanted to prove their enthusiasm, service, and compassion. Through a year jam-packed with impactful events, they made their mark.

The CWRU Charles L. Hudson Society was selected as the 2020 Outstanding Student Society for service to the profession in public education and advocacy, public service and outreach, promotion of diversity, and professional involvement.

Katherine Feng is CWRU’s representative to the Assembly of Representatives, the legislative body of the AAPA Student Academy. CWRU, she says, has “a wonderful group of students that has accomplished a lot inside and outside of the classroom.”

“While we’re learning medicine in our classrooms, we’re also practicing to become great providers for our future patients, advocating for our profession, and making lasting positive impacts in our communities and beyond,” Feng says. “A large part of the PA student experience at CWRU is our students’ extracurricular endeavors.”

Last year, those endeavors included a wide variety of events – including CWRU’s High School Anatomy Camp and Advocacy Initiative. The students partnered with two high schools in Northeast Ohio to hold Anatomy Camps, giving high schoolers hands-on experience and firsthand knowledge of the PA profession.

Katherine Feng in front of the School of Medicine
Katherine Feng, CWRU’s Representative to the Assembly of Representatives, and a member of the Class of 2021

CWRU PA students also engaged with local schools through a lead screening project in Cleveland. Teaming up with the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, CWRU PA students helped to screen children for exposure to lead poisoning, and worked with families on early intervention for their children.

Expanding access to care, especially for underserved communities, is a significant part of CWRU students’ activities. In 2019, they also participated in student-run health clinics every other Saturday throughout the academic year; helped provide health screenings at a wellness walk during National African American Male Wellness Week; participated in educational events and screenings focused on bridging the gap between health and hunger as part of the Stay Well Project; and joined Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps members to assist at a mobile medical clinic that provides free medical, dental, vision, and hearing care.

As for promotion of diversity, CWRU students keep it top of mind through a monthly newsletter called Zebra Hoofbeats, a collaborative effort with the CWRU School of Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. In practice, these students “encounter a very diverse population of patients from different ethnic, economic, religious, cultural, and professional backgrounds.” Zebra Hoofbeats is meant to remind students to “always have open hearts and understanding ears,” and keep them up to date on current social issues.

The Hudson Society is also keenly aware of Cleveland’s health disparities, especially for racial minorities. At the Men’s Minority Health Fair, CWRU PA students joined the Cleveland Clinic as volunteers to provide health education and free screenings to underserved minorities. Not only was this a volunteer opportunity, but it helped to raise students’ awareness of issues patients face in their community.

“It has been a privilege to get to know the incredible students in the CWRU PA program,” Feng says. “We are all working together and helping each other reach the goal of becoming a capable and confident PA. Our mutual respect and collaborations have made the PA school experience all the more rewarding.”

2020 AAPA Award Recipients