“Happy PA Week!” I say to a passerby while handing out a lollipop and info card at our PA Week booth. As I noticed the bewildered look on his face, I got the feeling it was not due to my enthusiastically unprompted greeting. His face was masked with uncertainty as I followed up by asking him if he knew what a physician assistant does. Again, his confused expression said all I needed to hear. This man had never even heard of the physician assistant profession nor what it entails.
While this anecdote may sound fabricated, it is a direct recount of an encounter I recently had with a man walking by our PA Week outreach table in Health Science Center. This exchange reminded me of the of the plethora of individuals who currently know very little, if anything at all, about the PA profession and very reason I was standing there in the first place.
PA Week undoubtedly aims to celebrate the contributions made every day by certified physician assistants to expand the reach of quality healthcare. It is also an opportunity to show our appreciation for the faculty and staff who invest their lives towards the education and training of America’s future front-runners in healthcare. However, the most distinguishing factor of PA Week versus other profession-based weeks is our need to promote and spread awareness of our profession. We need to engage and educate the public now, for it allows us to kindle the patient-provider rapport that is requisite for optimal care.
In an effort to celebrate and promote our future profession, the Class of 2015 is participating in various events during this week. Aside from serving as walking advertisements with our catchy PA Week shirts for this year, we are also hosting an information booth throughout this week in the Communicore building. At the table we are selling PA Week shirts, raffle tickets to help promote the Helmet campaign/event led by Shands ER PAs, distributing quick PA fact cards, and, of course, handing out free candy! We have also planned a surprise for our faculty and staff, to acknowledge the role they have played in our lives. Even before we applied to this program, each of our faculty members had unknowingly impacted us simply by being a part of the PA profession, which undoubtedly inspired and motivated us to be where we are today.
The class of 2014 is also joining forces with Shands ER PAs and other professional students to simultaneously celebrate National Primary Care Week. On Friday, Oct. 11, we will be assisting the Shands PAs at Target Copy from 4:30-8:00pm in not only educating local children about bike safety, but we will also be distributing free helmets, thanks to the fundraising efforts by our Shand’s colleagues and FAPA. The class of
2015 is also collaborating with other professional students (medical, pharmacy, and dental) at a Health Fair on Thursday, Oct. 10th from 4:30-8:30.
– Colleen Ursic, PAS1
Class of 2015 AAPA Representative