by Claire Tucker, PA-S, Duke University
The birthplace of the PA profession, the Duke University Physician Assistant Program began in 1965 under the leadership of Dr. Eugene Stead. Today, the 24-month long program carries on with a mission to educate caring, competent primary care physician assistants who practice evidence-based medicine, are leaders in the profession, dedicated to their communities, culturally sensitive, and devoted to positive transformation of the health care system.
The Duke PA Class of 2021 consists of 90 students well into their eighth rotation of the twelve that they will complete during their clinical year. The students are placed in a variety of sites across North Carolina, serving in clinical practice areas such as Primary Care, Behavioral Medicine, Emergency Medicine, General Surgery, etc. The graduation for the Class of 2021 is set for Sunday, May 9th, 2021.
Virtual White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2022
The Class of 2022 arrived in August of 2020 and includes 91 students from across the country with diverse backgrounds and patient care experiences. A virtual White Coat Ceremony kicked off the fall semester, which was delivered as a hybrid style curriculum of both in person training and virtual learning. Face shields, masks, symptom monitoring, temperature checks, frequent surveillance testing, and small groups ensured the safety of students and faculty alike. In December of 2020, the Class of 2022 completed their first semester of pre-clinical year education, including courses in Anatomy and Physiology, Basic Medical Sciences, Evidence-Based Practice, and integrated units of Clinical Medicine, Diagnostic Methods, and Pharmacology. Dermatology, Orthopedics, Rheumatology, and Otolaryngology units were also completed by December 2020. Additionally, the program began a pilot course, Practice and the Health System, in the fall. This course focused on the social determinants of health, population health crises, and incorporating skills for structural competency into future practice of the students.
Students utilizing Harvy Cardiopulmonary Simulation device as part of Diagnostic Methods Course
For the spring semester, the Class of 2022 is continuing their education under a hybrid model. The majority of the lectures and small group discussions are delivered virtually, however surgical skills lab occur weekly in person. The Clinical Medicine, Diagnostic Methods, and Pharmacology courses will cover units in Oncology, Hematology, Cardiology, Pulmonology, Endocrinology, Nephrology, Gastroenterology, Psychiatry, and Neurology this semester. Students will also continue with the Evidence Based Practice and Practice and the Health System courses. First-year students have the opportunity to work with preceptors at Duke University Hospital/Clinics and the Durham VA to practice their physical examination and history taking skills. In addition to the required coursework, many students enrolled in an elective Medical Spanish course this term.
Community Service and Outreach
In line with Duke University and the PA Program’s mission, students have remained dedicated to serving the Durham community throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. Several students celebrated PA week by individually donating blood with the American Red Cross, working on the Mountains to Sea Trail, and collaborating with Duke Medical School’s Root Causes organization to provide groceries to food insecure individuals in Durham. Additionally, the Class of 2022 voted to benefit the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle in the Annual Giving and Gratitude Campaign by hosting a food drive. Both first and second year students have had the privilege of volunteering in Duke’s COVID Vaccination Distribution, serving as patient educators and vaccinators for many health care workers and eligible community members.
Students Volunteering as Patient Educators and Vaccinators at a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic
The Class of 2022 hosted an inter-program competition encouraging students to register for the National Bone Marrow Registry. Students from Baylor University, George Washington University, University of Iowa, University of Southern California, and Tufts University competed with one another to add 228 new registrants to the registry. Additionally, students are planning to host an “Inter-Program Collaboration Conversation” with Stanford University and the University of Iowa PA programs to address the “Stop Scope Creep” campaign. The goal of this collaboration is to have thoughtful conversation about the campaign and draft letters to the AMA and/or AAPA from a student perspective. Students are looking forward to the Annual AAPA Conference in May and are excited to connect virtually with other PAs and students from around the country.
In November of 2020, the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) recognized Duke Division of Physician Assistant Studies professor, Perri Morgan, PhD, MEd, PA-C and Medical Center Library research and education librarian, Brandi Tuttle, MSLIS. The association awarded Morgan the Article of the Year award for her work on “Impact of Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, and Physician Assistants on Utilization and Costs for Complex Patients,” published in Health Affairs. Tuttle received the Partnership Award for her work as the liaison between the PA program and the Medical Center Library.