Space Medicine with Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Hayley Arceneaux

AAPA 2024 kicks off with a Main Stage event that is out of this world – literally!

May 18, 2024

Janith Mills, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA

AAPA 2024’s first Main Stage Event was opened today by the president of the Texas Academy of PAs, Janith Mills and AAPA CEO Lisa Gables. Attendees were in for a special treat as the Houston Show Choir took the stage and with a spectacular performance of songs, from Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” to Journey’s “Any Way You Want It.”

And in a bittersweet send-off, Gables announced the retirement of AAPA’s Vice President of Reimbursement & Professional Advocacy, Michael L. Powe, who has worked for AAPA for over 32 years, and is the inspiration behind AAPA’s new scholarship for future PA leaders.

Space Medicine: Lessons From Beyond Earth
For the main event, clinicians and astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Hayley Arceneaux introduced space medicine to the main stage.

Through a motivational, thought-provoking, and occasionally humorous dialog, Auñón-Chancellor and Arceneaux shared their experiences adjusting physically to life in orbit and how they trained specially for possible medical emergencies with the limited supplies they could travel with.

From left to right: Hayley Arceneaux and Serena Auñón-Chancellor

“You have to be trained for anything that could happen,” Arceneaux shared. “We were in a Dragon spacecraft, which is not very large. So, we flew a butterfly ultrasound and apple watches to work as a quick-and-dirty EKG, and maybe four drugs for the common symptoms that we might experience.” Auñón-Chancellor compared practicing medicine in space to how challenging it was to treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We don’t have unlimited supplies [in space]. We don’t have a Walgreens. So, you really have to be creative when a medical event occurs.”

Auñón-Chancellor also shared the exciting opportunities opening up in aerospace medicine as the number of space flyers are bound to increase. “This is a field that is moving rapidly. More quickly than I could ever envision,” she said. “You’re going to see it pop up in multiple universities, private practices, and in the military. And what I will tell you is that it is not just for MDs. There has been a tremendous amount of interest across multiple fields: PAs, NPs, nursing, physical therapy…”

She goes on to encourage PAs to follow their interests, learn from others, and improve their skillsets. “The biggest piece of advice I can give people is to make sure you don’t overextend yourself. Do what you do, and do it really well,” she said. “If you’re interested in something, the piece of advice I give everybody, from undergraduate all the way up the chain is: bother somebody and ask how they got to where they are in their career.”

From left to right: Hayley Arceneaux and Serena Auñón-Chancellor

Following their discussion, they took questions from the audience, ranging from how space travel affects astronauts’ heart heath to what the view is really like from space.

Overall, the event was both informational and entertaining as audience members got a chance to hear from two clinicians who truly go above and beyond, both on Earth and in outer space.

For anyone unable to join today’s session, keep an eye out for the recording on AAPA’s CME Central.

And don’t miss AAPA’s second Main Stage Event, How AI and the Superconvergence of Accelerating Technologies Will Shape Healthcare, on Monday, May 20. Daniel Kraft, a world-renowned physician-scientist, innovator, and expert in technology and its impacts on health and medicine, will provide a firsthand account of how generative AI, machine learning, digital health, and extended reality are elevating clinical decision-making and empowering healthcare providers.

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