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The Pulse

  • NC PA Program Highlight | Duke University

    The Duke University Physician Assistant Program is a 24-month long program and the birthplace of the PA profession, beginning in 1965 under the leadership of Dr. Eugene Stead. The first class of three PAs, Victor Germino, Kenneth Ferrell and Richard Scheele, graduated from Duke University on October 6th, 1967.

    Today, the Duke PA class of 2019 consists of 90 students well into their sixth rotation of the ten that they will complete during their clinical year. The students have been placed in a variety of sites across North Carolina, serving in clinical practice areas such as Family Medicine, Neurology, Emergency Medicine, etc. Several of these students will be traveling abroad to South America, Africa, or Southeast Asia for Global Health Elective rotations. For the first time, seven of our PA students and two of our faculty will travel to Cuba in April to study the healthcare system. The graduation for the Class of 2019 is set for Sunday, May 12, 2019.

    The class of 2020 arrived in Durham in August of 2018 and includes 90 students from across the country with diverse backgrounds and patient care experiences. The first-year class completed the first semester of their didactic year, including three integrated units (clinical medicine / diagnostic methods / pharmacology) in hematology, cardiology, and orthopedics. Courses of instruction included the basic sciences, anatomy, physiology, evidence-based practice, and patient assessment and counseling. For their second semester, they recently began the integrated clinical medicine, pharmacology, and diagnostic methods courses in 7 integrated units including oncology, EENT, integrative medicine, nephrology, pulmonology, and rheumatology. First-year students are also working with preceptors at Duke University Hospital/Clinics and the Durham VA, seeing patients one afternoon per week. In addition to the required coursework, some students have enrolled in an elective Medical Spanish course this term.

    Community Service and Outreach
    In line with Duke University’s and the PA Program’s mission statement, we have remained dedicated to serving our community and have been involved in several events benefiting the local community throughout the 2018 – 19 academic year.

    • September: Duke Faculty and students participated in the annual Stead Tread Fun Run, which benefited the Lincoln Community Health Center of Durham.
    • October: During National PA Week, the class participated in the PA Day of Service. 110 students, faculty and staff clocked 300 hours of service to the Durham community, volunteering with several local organizations including Crayons2Calculators, Urban Ministries of Durham, Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC, Goodwill Community Foundation Farm, Keep Durham Beautiful, Soldiers’ Angels, Miracle League of the Triangle, TROSA and Scrap Exchange, among others.
    • November: Students served meals at the Urban Ministries of Durham’s Community Cafe; In honor of Veteran’s Day, faculty and students delivered homemade cards and baked goods to the Durham VA Medical center; In celebration of Thanksgiving, students delivered greeting cards and visited with residents of The Forest at Duke Retirement Community.
    • December: We held a food drive for Urban Ministries and a sensory toy drive for the Me Fine Foundation.
    • January: PA faculty and students donated 28 units of blood to the American Red Cross through a student-organized blood drive. We also volunteered with Bull City Classrooms at Lakewood Elementary, creating an “MLK Service Day” in reflection of the reason for the long MLK weekend, and at Eastway Elementary on a separate weekend. Several students participated in a Special Olympics Basketball game, assisting in their development and practice in lieu of their upcoming games.
    • February: A group of students assisted with organization of incoming donations for the clothing store at Urban Ministries of Durham.

    Throughout the past two semesters, we have partnered with Harris Teeter Savings to donate a percentage of our individual shopping totals from each Harris Teeter visit to Burton Elementary School. The class of 2020 has continued to volunteer with the Duke MedMentors program, working with teenagers at local juvenile detention facilities to provide health education, tutoring, career learning, and life skills with the intention of promoting the long-term health and rehabilitation of these adolescents. Our annual fundraising plans include several efforts throughout the Durham community and within our class, including a surprise faculty shave to benefit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

    Health & Wellness
    In line with the class goals of personal health and wellness, our class participated in both a student-led Improv workshop and a KORU Mindfulness workshop with the co-founder, Libby Webb.

    About Our Program
    The Duke PA program is led by our program Director, Jacqueline Barnett, DHSc, MSHS, PA-C, along with 20 full-time faculty members. Several adjunct faculty also teach as content experts in various disciplines. Our PA program is located near downtown Durham in the former headquarters of Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of North Carolina. The building was completely gutted and adapted for the PA program in 2009. The 34,000-square foot building has state-of-the-art educational spaces including an electronic master classroom, small group rooms, multiple physical diagnosis suites, diagnostic methods laboratory, clinical simulators, student gathering and study spaces, conference rooms and faculty/staff offices. Our exam rooms are equipped with an exam table, sink, and all the standard equipment you find in a traditional medical practice setting. The exam rooms are particularly helpful for standardized patient encounters which occur once per integrated unit (i.e. one for a pulmonology patient chief complaint, one for a rheumatology patient chief complaint, etc.), where we are able to practice clinical skills and patient assessment. Most classroom activities during our pre-clinical phase of the program take place at the Duke PA program building. Full cadaver anatomy labs are held in the Human Gross Anatomy Lab in Duke South. Our students have the full educational resources of the Duke University Medical Center available to them. In addition, our students have access to the Medical Center Library & Archives, located in the Seeley G. Mudd building on Duke’s medical campus. This additional facility offers many options for group and individual study, wireless internet, public computer terminals, and print/copy stations. For more information on our Duke PA Program facilities: https://fmch.duke.edu/duke-physician-assistant-program/about-pa-program/facilities

    During the clinical year, many of our student clinical rotations are scheduled at Duke University Hospital and the adjacent Durham Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Some Durham rotations also use Duke Regional Hospital. To experience a range of clinical practice, our students are also scheduled for rotations in private community practices, public health clinics and large and small community hospitals located throughout North Carolina and the Southeast. All of our students are asked to complete a minimum of 2 months of rotational assignments in a medically underserved area.

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