PA students go big, take prize in volunteering

Given the intense curriculum and non-stop schedule of students in DMU’s physician assistant program, they could be rightfully expected to hoard any spare moments of down time for zoned-out sleep. Not so: Despite the high rigor and relentless pace of their academic pursuits, last year members of the PA Class of 2015 set a new record for the most volunteer hours per student.

They also scorched their competition – their PA student counterparts at the University of Iowa – in the annual student volunteer contest of the Iowa Physician Assistant Society (IPAS). The DMU students racked up 33.82 hours of volunteering per student, compared to the 11.75 hours by the University of Iowa PA students.

Winning the contest meant DMU received $400 in addition to the $1,000 IPAS provides each of the state’s two PA programs to offset the costs of students’ attending the national conference of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. The monetary award wasn’t what drove the DMU PA Class of 2015, however.

“We were told about the IPAS competition at the beginning of the year, and we set a goal of 25 volunteer hours per student. However, our focus was on getting involved with local medical organizations and serving the community, and because of that we exceeded our goal,” says class member Michelle Kubik. “It was just a nice bonus that we were able to beat the University of Iowa in the process.”

Kubik and fellow PA student Emily Walker served as the class’s community service co-chairs, planning and coordinating volunteer opportunities for class members throughout their didactic year. Their activities included Salvation Army bell-ringing, a holiday adopt-a-family effort and service to the Ronald Mc Donald House, Easter Seals of Iowa and Youth Emergency Services and Shelter of Iowa.

“It was a great opportunity to show our support for local and national medical associations while serving our community,” Walker says.

She and Kubik say the class’s favorite event was probably the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night event, inspired by Pam Harrison Chambers, PA-C’92, M.P.H.’01, associate professor in the program and a lymphoma survivor. The students raised more than $5,000 for the organization through individual fundraising and a class bake sale. Thirty students volunteered at the event.

The PA students volunteered in campus-wide opportunities and in activities with their campus clubs, too.

“Many students also found individual ways to volunteer based on their own personal interests and involvement, such as assisting neighbors with yard work and volunteering at church,” Walker says.

Adds Kubik, “All of these opportunities, combined with our classmates’ selfless attitudes and passion for
others in our community, led to an extremely service-oriented year for the PA class.”

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