2022 PA Program Highlight | Pfeiffer University
by Benjamin Paul, PA-S, Pfeiffer University
The Pfeiffer University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MS-PAS) program is located in Albermarle, NC. It is a 27-month program where students learn to become clinicians to provide excellent healthcare and become servant leaders that address health disparities. From its origin, the PA program at Pfeiffer University aimed to serve rural communities and underserved populations. This mission can be seen throughout the classroom curriculum and through the student-led community initiative projects outside the classroom. The Pfeiffer PA Studies program prides itself on being a part of the community and connecting students to the people of Albemarle and surrounding counties. It is a continuous residential program and has 2 phases: the didactic and clinical phases. In the 15 months didactic phase, students learn in a stairstep fashion, building a foundation for subsequent classes, beginning with Anatomy, Medical Interviewing, and Medical Microbiology. It then progresses through each body system in Clinical Medicine, Pharmacology, and Physical Diagnosis. In the clinical phase, students gain over 2,100 hours of supervised clinical practice experience (SCPE) by progressing through rotations in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, General Surgery, Orthopedics, Pediatrics, Women’s Health, Behavioral and Mental Health, and an elective rotation.
Students use the Center for Advanced Clinical Simulation Education for Skills Lab and both didactic and clinical OSCEs.
The inaugural cohort will graduate in May 2022. The Class of 2022 will finish their last clinical rotations, present their Capstone Graduate Research Project, and complete Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) training for substance use disorders before commencement. As part of the program, the Class of 2022 implemented the first initiatives for Project S.E.E.D. (Serving Everyone, Embracing Diversity). For the first initiative, during the rapid onset of COVID-19, the class raised over $1,200 to produce face shields for local healthcare workers. For an additional initiative, the class went on to propose Smoking Prevention & Cessation in Stanly County and was awarded a grant from the NCCPA Health Foundation.
The 2nd cohort, the Class of 2023, is entering its last semester of the didactic phase. Outside the classroom, the class of 2023 had the privileged opportunity of hosting a group of rising 1st graders from Book Buddies Literacy Camp. The local area uses the program to boost reading and writing skills by one-on-one student-teacher interaction. Their time at Pfeiffer’s Center for Health Science building allowed students to explore STEM career fields. In addition, each student was given their white coat and stethoscope! Other activities outside the classroom include SafeZone training, an intercohort mentorship program, and outreach for PA week.
The Center of Health Sciences hosted students from local elementary schools participating in the Book Buddies Literacy Camp.
During PA Week, the Class of 2023 participated in advocacy and service while also celebrating local PAs and faculty in our program. The week started with a video made by the cohort interviewing many students about #WhyPA? This video was shared by many of the students but also reposted by the AAPA. The next day consisted of students collecting the canned food items from our canned food drive at local shops, businesses, agencies, and gyms. From this, the students collected over 300 cans donated to two local non-profits, Stanly Community Christian Ministries and West Stanly Christian Ministries. The following day, the students put on a blood drive that collected enough blood for 69 hospitalized patients. Our service for PA week ended by delivering cards and gift baskets to local PAs to celebrate and thank them for everything they have done for our community. Finally, the student government put on a lunch for all of the cohort’s staff as a final celebration.
The Pfeiffer PA program welcomed its third cohort, the class of 2024, this January.
At the Center for Health Sciences campus, the PA program housed the start of Pfeiffer’s Alumni Week with an open house to Alumni, donors, and the community. The open house consisted of 2 ribbon-cutting ceremonies. In addition, the building was dedicated, tours of the facilities provided by the students, and festivities put on in downtown Albemarle by the city to celebrate Falcons Nite Out. There was a great turnout and positive feedback was received from the community about how active Pfeiffer University and PA program have been in outreach.
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