NCCPA Health Foundation

Previous Spotlights


The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) PA program brought together students across health profession disciplines to provide healthcare to The Firehouse Shelter –a facility serving homeless men in the Birmingham metropolitan area.

Twice a month, Firehouse clients are screened for hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and other health issues.  Since June 2016, approximately 40 PA students have rotated through the clinic and provided care for more than 120 individuals.

"This is one of those rare occasions that impacts the lives of everyone involved," said James R. Kilgore, PhD, PA-C, program director of the UAB Physician Assistant Studies program. "Our students get to see interesting cases, meet unique clients and put the lessons learned in anatomy and physiology to work. And on the other side of the table, the clients get the high quality medical care they so desperately need yet cannot access anywhere else."

UAB anticipates turning its health screening project into a sustainable program that will continue to deliver healthcare to one of Birmingham’s most vulnerable population. The project has proven to be invaluable not only to the men who receive healthcare, but also to the students who deliver that care.

"My mother used to work at a local women's shelter so I spent a lot of time working with her," said PA student, Ebony Bates. "Seeing first-hand how basic preventative healthcare can be overlooked due to stress of being homeless, encouraged me to do outreach in the hope that I could help play a role in making sure that those needs were met."

“Health Screenings for the Homeless” is supported by the nccPA Health Foundation’s Be the CHANGE grants program.

 Firehouse Shelter image 1      Firehouse shelter image 2

PA Educator, James Kilgore, and UAB PA students host a clinic at The Firehouse Shelter.


Eighteen PA and five dental students participated in an oral health community outreach event at an elementary school that reached more than 60 inner-city kids.

UTMB Students

                                           Mercyhurst PA program hosts “Dental Day” at Carpe Diem Academy.

Mercyhurst’s PA Program teamed up with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) School of Dental Medicine to integrate oral health into the PA curriculum and to provide screenings and education at Carpe Diem Academy, a Mercyhurst-sponsored afterschool program.

To foster interprofessional education, dental faculty provided instruction about the relationship between oral health and systemic health as well as hands on experience performing basic oral health procedures such as the pediatric oral examination and fluoride varnish application. 

“It is important that proper dental care is integrated into medical care,” said Marcie Fitzgerald, MPAS, PA-C, clinical director of the Mercyhurst PA program. “We are on the frontlines of medicine, and we need to make sure that children are getting the proper care and referrals to dentists.” 

The dental and PA students then conducted screenings for dental caries and risk assessments for developing caries at Carpe Diem Academy.  Through interactive activities, the children were taught about fluoride, proper hygiene, and diet; and each child was given a gift bag to practice healthy habits at home.  Parents and caregivers were provided educational materials on pediatric oral health as well as dental referrals for their children, if needed. 

“Oral health is not only done by the dentist, but now needs to be part of family practice and routine yearly visits,” said Alyssa Byerly, participating Mercyhurst PA student.

The Mercyhurst PA Program looks forward to continuing their relationship with LECOM Dental School and bring “Dental Day” back to the community.  This project was supported by an nccPA Health Foundation grant that was part of the PA Leadership Initiative in Oral Health.  The initiative is supported by the NIIOH and its funders the DentaQuest Foundation and Washington Dental Service Foundation.  


Thirty PA students volunteered a total of 300 hours to be the change and bring hope to patients and families at the Ronald McDonald House in Galveston, Texas. Watch this time-lapse video of the transformation to create a Superhero Hideout.

Be the Change grant recipient Wendy Carazo knew from her PA class’s regular outreach activities that the Ronald McDonald House had sustained repeated water damage from hurricanes and others storms. While the damage was repairable, doing so stripped the themed patient rooms and other decorations designed to energize and support families and patients. Recognizing this neeed, Carazo and her UTMB classmates took action to support their community.

“The children staying at the Ronald McDonald House have demonstrated how strong they are by persevering through their illness. It is our hope that having a special place to ‘hideout’ will help them be confident and brave during their journey to recovery,” said Carazo, UTMB PA Class of 2017. “Plus, through our ongoing involvement with RMH, we are exemplifying our profession’s commitment to being community leaders and promoting the positive impact of PAs.”

UTMB Students

 This project is an extension of the RMH’s mission of providing a safe and supportive  environment for families  going through the hardship of caring for a sick child. By decorating a  room with symbols associated with   courage, the UTMB students hope to empower the children  to be confident and brave during their journey to  recovery. The  resiliency these children and their families display demonstrates that they are truly the  superheroes  in their own story. We hope the children who stay in the “Superhero  Hideout” feel like superheroes and find the strength to  overcome their illness.

(Top left to right) Paige Savage, Ashley White, Krystal Carpenter, Julia Case, Forest Trager, Josh Baker, Spencer Anderson, Ashley Unaegbu, Erin Sharpe, Beth Thompson, Stacey Frerich, Heather Cox, Lexie Aldridge, Shama Shaukatali

(Bottom left to right) Hannah Ausloos, Lauren Habern, Avalynn Ly, Haley Kemp, Wendy Carazo, Elizabeth Knipp, Danielle Williams, Marlene Martinez, Tiffany Du, Carina Cure, Victoria Rios


Be the CHANGE grant recipient and PA student Jessica Warner and her first-year PA classmates from Samuel Merritt University made a change to improve health by running a medical clinic in the rural, mountainous community of Batata, Panama. They were joined in this interdisciplinary trip by nursing and physical therapy providers and students.

During the three-day clinic, 486 patients were seen; and most patients were treated for musculoskeletal and respiratory complaints. Additional community members will be reached through the patient education materials left at the school where the clinic was held. 

The nearest permanent medical clinic is eight hours away on foot, and most residents do not have access to the necessary transportation. As a result, the SMU medical clinic, now in its fourth year, provides the primary source of health care for the community. 

“The trip made me feel more confident as a budding medical provider, and it was so incredible to help people in such a remote area,” said Warner. “I look forward to continuing to be the change for health in my PA studies and in my future practice."

Smile Detroit

 First-year PA students and Samuel Merritt PA Program Director ran a three-day medical clinic in Panama.  Front row (L-R):  PA students Jessica
Warner, Ellen Mendoza, Padmaja Murtinty, Diana Ha. Back row (L-  R): PA students Peter May, Beverly Carlos, Patrick Ohsann, and Michael DeRosa MPH, PhD, PA-C,  Assistant Professor/Department Chair. 


Jessica Warner 2

Community members lined up outside the school building while waiting to be seen by the PAs and other health providers who had set-up the clinic. 


During AAPA Conference 2016 in San Antonio, TX, two PAs and three PA students volunteered alongside five dental students from the UT Health Science Center School of Dentistry to put on an oral health education event at The Children’s Shelter, a safe haven AAPA imagefor homeless/displaced children in the San Antonio Area. The children live, have meals, and attend school on site. The education event utilized the Pediatric Oral Health Toolkit designed by the SAAAPA Oral Health Task Force (2015-2016) and reached 20 children ranging from 2 to 14 years old. The children were taught about good nutrition and proper oral hygiene practices.

These activities were part of the Physician Assistant Leadership Initiative in Oral Health, a profession-wide movement that brings together leaders and students from across PA national organizations and educational programs to expand integration of oral health in PA practice. Interprofessional collaboration with the dental students allowed the professions to learn from and with each other setting the foundation for interprofessional practice. PAs and PA students can play an important role in eradicating dental disease, through screening, prevention and referral for patients with oral disease.


Four health professions students. Two universities.  One big idea.Smile Detroit

When students and faculty from the University of Detroit Mercy and Wayne State University tried to envision a way to learn together about oral health, Students of Michigan for Interprofessional and Leadership Education (SMILE) Detroit was created. 

Funded through an oral health community outreach grant, SMILE Detroit brought together Theresa Gattari, WSU Medical School; Rami Nazarian, UDM Dental School; Kendall Gjetaj, WSU PA program; and Sylvia Hang, RDH, UDM PA program (left to right in picture above) to design and lead a pilot program to increase interprofessionalism between health professions students through education and promotion of oral health. In February, the SMILE Detroit team hosted an oral health huddle, which consisted of case studies on the impact of oral conditions on overall health and disease, followed by an oral health bootcamp, where students rotated through a series of interactive exercises to lean the oral exam, the application of fluoride varnish, and how to provide oral health instruction to patients. 

The students presented their work at the University of Detroit Mercy’s Celebration of Research and Scholarship in April, and plans are underway to replicate and expand the program with future classes of health professions students.



Grant recipient and PA student Kelsey Berg and her classmates at the University of Texas Medical Branch are making a change with their Teaching Others Oral Treatments and Health (TOOTH) program. The program teaches children about why oral health is important to overall health as well as about brushing and flossing.

Kelsey Berg Head ShotThe program reached more than 130 children in 2015; read more about the program here.

Berg replicated the successful outreach event to include an additional 150 children at a local elementary school in  February for Oral Health month. To make the program's expansion possible, Berg turned the event into an  interprofessional outreach that 

 included first and second year PA students, nursing students, and a respiratory therapy student, all from UTMB. The  success of the TOOTH program is catching; and Berg and her classmates have been invited to bring the program to a  local senior center and a community health fair later this year.

Group photo from tooth program     PA, nursing, and respiratory therapy

     students participate in interprofessional

     Teaching Others Oral Treatments and

     Health (TOOTH) program during Oral

     Health month in February 2016.

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