The Character of Caring
The art of medicine is, at its core, the art of service. Every day, healthcare workers around the globe make personal and professional sacrifices to ensure that their patients get the best care possible. Inevitably, that selfless attitude spills over into their personal lives as well. The father of medicine said it best, “Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity”-Hippocrates. Unfortunately, Hippocrates also said “The art is long, life is short” which for a modern PA student can mean four tests, a case presentation, and six notes to write before midnight tomorrow. I, like many other students, said during my PA school interview that I wanted to get into medicine to help people. However, the rigors of PA school often keep me from doing just that. I have heard it explained that PA school is like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant. This begs the question; how can PA students preserve their love of service while also just trying to stay afloat?
The answer is to incorporate service into the character of your institution. Students are more likely to volunteer for an event if their class is participating as a group, than they would be to seek out the same project on their own. When a majority of the members of a class volunteer together they foster relationships, leadership skills, and morale as well as benefit their communities. For this reason, the Student Academy of the AAPA is petitioning PA schools around the country to participate in a service event as a University and to tell us about it! We know that it can be difficult to find time to give back, but when we come together as a class or University we strengthen our communities, make ourselves better providers, and advocate for our chosen profession. The Student Academy of the AAPA would like to encourage schools to pick a service project and fill out an info sheet so that the organization can celebrate your achievement and keep a record of the many ways that PA schools choose to give back to their communities. The Student Academy of the AAPA would also like to encourage programs to focus on the following interests; spreading the oral health toolkit, educating on mental illness and working to decrease the stigma associated with it, spreading information about the PA profession to high school and undergraduate student populations, and increasing awareness about the PA Foundation which is the philanthropic branch of the AAPA. The form to submit your service project can be found here: https://docs.google.com/a/desales.edu/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScwfaRNkJwGW1zGFBO_FshaUcXRbdw–EN-bcgww3UzkTQY9Q/viewform?c=0&w=1
One of the largest barriers to service is the claim that we are simply too busy to give up valuable time volunteering. For many students it can be hard to justify taking a half hour break to watch a TV show or exercise let alone to sacrifice an entire afternoon working towards a service project. However, the greater the number of students that volunteer, the smaller and flimsier these barriers appear. The Millennial Impact Report for 2015, revealed that students are more likely to volunteer their time if they have a personal connection to the cause. Therefore, when choosing a service project, it is important give consideration to organizations or subjects that affect student’s lives on a personal level. Organizations can see an immense increase in the number of student volunteers by carefully selecting a project that unites the class.
People are also more likely to volunteer for a project if they feel useful. No one wants to be the odd man out at an event. If they are under the impression that they will just be hanging around the event or preforming menial tasks, then most students will choose to stay home and catch up on some much needed sleep. A great way to make sure that everyone can get involved in a project is to make the project medically oriented. By volunteering at a camp for kids with medical disabilities, a free clinic, or health information fair you not only give back to the community but also put practical skills learned in class to work.
PA school is incredibly rigorous mentally and physically. This can often distract students from giving back to their communities as much as they would like to. By engaging in service as a class or University, picking a personal project, and using all the volunteer’s talents efficiently PA programs can increase the number of volunteers they see at their events. If schools are successful in doing this, they will be not only strengthening their communities, but also creating more compassionate and capable providers.
Rebecca Rasmuson PA-S
Desales University PA Program
Class of 2017