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Inspiring Teens Into Health Careers

Stony Brook University’s PA Program members launched an initiative to inspire future health leaders as well as promote awareness and diversity in the PA profession.

In a recent event, jointly organized by the University’s Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), a New York State Education Department endeavor, along with their Department of PA Education in the School of Health Professions, provided underserved Suffolk County, NY, high school students with an introduction to the profession and practical experiences.

“Our goal was to expose these students to the PA profession and get them excited about potential careers in health care,” said Lynn Timko-Swaim, MS, DFAAPA, PA-C, a PA faculty member who organized the event. “We wanted to offer an enjoyable and interactive learning experience that would help them better understand the role of PAs in patient care.”

About 20 high school students from several local schools participated in the half-day session, which included a PowerPoint presentation provided by NCCPA’s Back2School resources website, interactive activity stations, and a review game.

The event began with the high school students completing a pre-survey to assess their existing knowledge and exposure to the PA profession.

Timko-Swaim then delivered a presentation covering topics such as the PA role in the health sector, preparation for PA programs and suggestions for high school students interested in health care careers.

Following the presentation, the students rotated through five hands-on activity stations led by 11 Stony Brook PA students. The stations focused on skills related to a patient case, including vital signs, lung exams, neurological exams and imaging interpretation.

“It was amazing to see the students saying comments such as, ‘Oh wow! A PA can do that?’ during our breakout sessions,” said Melissa Nora, PA-S1, who participated in the initiative to promote the PA profession.

The event concluded with a Jeopardy-style review game that reinforced the concepts covered during the activity stations.

“We were thrilled to see their understanding and interest in the PA profession grow over the course of the event,” said Timko-Swaim.

Post-event survey results showed that 80% of the students indicated they or someone in their family had been cared for by a PA and the percentage of students who felt they had a good understanding of how PAs participate in patient care increased from 15% to 100%. Additionally, the percentage of students interested in becoming a PA rose from 25% to 89%.

“Events like this are so important for introducing students to health care careers and inspiring the next generation of PA professionals,” Timko-Swaim said. “We’re looking forward to continuing to engage with the community.”

The NCCPA Back2School program offers free resources that will help you share your passion for the PA profession as a career option with students of all ages. To download a PowerPoint presentation, infographics, coloring sheets and more, click here.