D’Youville Celebrates National Physician Assistant Week
Physician Assistant Week is celebrated every year from October 6 to October 12 to recognize the PA profession and the contributions they provide to the nation’s health. The week always officially begins on the birthday of the profession’s founder, Eugene A. Stead, Jr., MD.
PA Week is designed to educate others on what physician assistants do — something that Laura Grable MPAS, PA-C, academic coordinator in the PA program at D’Youville, says is changing.
“I graduated from D'Youville's physician assistant program in 1996, just as PAs were beginning to be seen in the WNY area. Many physicians were unsure of our capabilities and how we fit into the healthcare model and many patients did not understand our role. I remember many times during the early years of my clinical experience of having to explain my role as a PA,” she reflected.
“Now, PAs are one of the top professions in the United States. They are in every area of healthcare and are providing comprehensive services. With the demand for more healthcare providers increasing, PAs are proving to be a vital component in the healthcare system today.”
Physician assistants are an important piece to a patient’s health as their training allows for a wide range of responsibilities including conducting physical exams, diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering and interpreting laboratory and radiological tests, and even writing prescriptions.
Margaret Garito ’18 wanted to become a PA for this exact reason. “I decided to join the PA program because I have always wanted to work in healthcare as a provider,” she said. “I love that PA’s can change specialties and practice in all areas of medicine at any time, the career is very versatile.”
Part of what makes D’Youville’s PA program unique is the involvement in interprofessional education, where students are involved in the whole care of the patient and draw on each area’s innate strengths. Inside of the Interprofessional Education and Simulation Center on campus, students from all seven other D’Youville healthcare majors take advantage of state-of-the-art technology and patient actors to learn collaboratively to optimize patient care.
“It’s very important for the student PA to understand the role of various healthcare providers since they will be the ones referring their future patients for these services,” says Audrey Smith MS, PA-C, pharmacology coordinator and clinical assistant professor in the PA program.
“Patients who need ancillary services such as physical therapy or nutrition depend on the PA to make proper referrals as part of their care. Interprofessional education allows PA students to become familiar with the roles and responsibilities of other providers to best manage a patient's care,” said Smith.
After participating in a few simulations, Noelle Harford ’18 sees the importance of interprofessional education for the future of healthcare. “By participating in these labs and working together as professionals now, we understand the important role each profession plays — it can only optimize the success for the patient later,” she said. “It’s imperative that we, as medical professionals with different training and degrees, remember the reason we were trained and what our teamwork is working towards: the patient.”
“These simulations were very helpful in understanding what other health professions can provide for a patient,” said Jenna Secchiaroli ’19. “It gave me the opportunity to see what other healthcare fields see fit as treatment, and how important it is to work as a team to provide the best possible care for all patients.”
Bethany Dunn PA-C, DC, chair and PA program director at D’Youville adds, “Our PA program strives to meet the healthcare needs of a diverse patient population by providing the highest quality of clinical education to turn today’s students into tomorrow’s providers.”
“The focus on research and evidence-based patient-centered care coupled with exceptional clinical rotations helps to develop highly-competent and compassionate PAs that we are proud to call our own,” said Dunn.
Students in D’Youville’s PA program can earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in as little as 4.5 years and graduates report a 95 percent job placement rate within six months of graduation in the medical fields of their choice.
Highlighting the week will be a luncheon event on Wednesday, October 10 from 1 – 2:15 PM featuring guest speakers Donna Hall MPAS, PA-C, District D chairperson of the New York State Society of PAs and Katie Sumner MS, PA-C of the Western New York Association of PAs.
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