Assistant professor named PA of the Year and an Engaged Scholar Faculty Fellow
Laura Delaney, PA-C’99, M.P.A.S., had provided health care to patients in the West African nation of Mali before she joined DMU’s physician assistant faculty in 2008. That’s why one of her first questions to Yogesh Shah, M.D., M.P.H.’14, FAAFM, associate dean of global health, was, “Can I take students with me?”
The assistant professor has since worked with students to serve patients in South Africa, Haiti, St. Lucia and the Dominican Republic. She recently helped create a rotation for PA student Sarah Hotchkiss with the Indian Health Service in South Dakota, and she’s exploring options in Belize.
“I’m always looking for new opportunities to broaden the horizons of our students,” she says. “I want them to see what medical treatments are available and which are not. I want to help them become more sensitive toward the patients they take care of at home. And I want them to gain confidence they have great diagnostic skills.”
For her contributions as an Iowa physician assistant, her service to patients locally and around the world and her efforts to create opportunities for students, on Sept. 30 Delaney was named the 2015 Physician Assistant of the Year by the Iowa Physician Assistant Society.
This year she also became DMU’s first faculty member to be named an Iowa Campus Compact (IACC) Engaged Scholar Faculty Fellow for 2015-2016. Formed in 2003, IACC is a statewide association of college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the public and civic purposes of higher education by educating students for active citizenship and building strong communities. Its Engaged Scholar Faculty Fellows participate in ongoing training and professional development in engaged scholarship and teaching over the course of a year and receive a stipend to implement a service-learning or other engagement project on their campus.
In that role, Delaney’s goals relate to strengthening efforts to address global health disparities. “I want to help train future generations of global health volunteers by assisting students; observe the practice and organization of health care in another country; improve medical/surgical skills; improve language/communication skills; learn about another culture; and deepen knowledge of infectious disease,” she says. “I hope to mentor students in their reflection and personal growth when working within a system of health disparity.”
On global health trips, Delaney encourages students to teach patients “universal ways” to maintain health, such as brushing their teeth, washing their hands properly and, if necessary, boiling their water to make it safe to drink. “We want to empower patients to do the best they can with what they have,” she adds.
Delaney enjoys working with students as well as patients at home and during global health trips. “They’re still in first-year mode, asking all these questions,” she says. “They get so excited to be learning in real-life settings. They won’t forget the experiences they have.”