A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS) physician assistant (PA) students recently provided health education to a group of firefighter recruits from Superstition Fire and Medical District (SFMD) in Apache Junction, Arizona.
Travis Yates, SFMD firefighter and paramedic, reached out to ATSU-ASHS to see if anyone would be able to provide recruits health education as part of their pre-academy preparation program. Linda MacConnell, MSPA, MAEd, PA-C, associate professor, answered the call. As director of the Clinical Medicine Practicum, a course where first-year students have contact with patients off campus, she knew her students would be up for the task and agreed to this new partnership. MacConnell then provided some general guidelines about what to include in the presentation, and the PA students took it from there.
Josh Andrews, PA, ’22, Jennifer Burgdorf, PA, ’22, Taylor Drummonds, PA, ’22, Garrett Kobayashi, PA, ’22, Monika Koehler, PA, ’22, Grace Lo, PA, ’22, Jessica Pedersen, PA, ’22, and Madi Sowerwine, PA, ’22, came together to develop the content and then provided the presentation to recruits.
“It was extremely cool to be able to put our strengths together to help the firefighters,” Pedersen said. “Loved being able to work as a cohesive PA group.”
The presentation focused on prevention through a discussion about maintaining a healthy diet, body mechanics, injury prevention, and the importance of mindfulness in alleviating stress. While the SFMD recruits were not actual patients, the PA students were able to demonstrate how they would approach real-life scenarios, as patient education is a significant part of what they offer therapeutically.
“It was a rewarding experience to help educate individuals on how to improve their mental and physical health,” Koehler stated.
This was the first time ATSU-ASHS PA students provided health education for SFMD. The presentation was so well received by all in attendance, the partnership is expected to continue.
“I think it was a great way to reach out to our community and support interprofessional growth and collaboration. It was also a chance to represent the PA profession, as our role as providers will be to promote wellness and advocacy,” Drummonds said. “Our broad array of experiences and interests also shows the diversity the PA profession itself contains. And we had a blast.”
Linda MacConnell, MSPA, MAEd, PA-C, associate professor, contributed to this article.