What is Outreach Anyway?
Greetings! My name is Matt Mancini, and I am the director of outreach for the Student Academy of AAPA. But let’s be honest, what does that really even mean? One of the factors that contributed to me applying for this position was that I did not fully understand what outreach meant. I wanted a chance to not only develop the role, but also to let the role develop me.
I have learned that “outreach” can encompass so much, but it is the lack of discrete walls on the definition of “outreach” that make my position so fulfilling and dynamic.
To many individuals, outreach means just what the word says – reaching out. That is often felt to be in the form of community service. Aside from service to our communities however, outreach means growing relationships and fostering connections. As I have learned though, two other important arenas that outreach touches upon are professional advocacy and promotion of diversity.
So what kind of outreach is the Student Academy currently engaging in? The Student Academy has eight volunteer groups, each led by a Student Board member. The work that we are doing is focused on: mental health; high school and pre-PA outreach; global health; interprofessionalism; health & wellness; military entrance into PA school; student debt; and a national PA Student Service Day which we successfully completed last fall.
Aside from volunteer groups (which any PA student nationally can apply for), we also continually support and promote community service activities at local PA programs. Regarding interprofessionalism, there is a national group of leaders called the Interprofessional Leaders of Student Organizations in Healthcare, which the Director of Outreach serves on.
On advocacy for the profession, the Student Academy always ensures that PA students have a voice, whether this is through Student Academy President Joseph Sutherland, who sits on the AAPA Board of Directors; conversations on Huddle; or attending national conferences such as the Leadership & Advocacy Summit. This year’s Leadership & Advocacy Summit focused on FPAR (Full Practice Authority and Responsibility) and not only were there four Student Academy Board members present, there were about 13 PA students in attendance from across the nation!
The concluding thought that I will leave with you is that you should never be afraid to go for something that scares or intimidates you. If you do not challenge yourself, then you will never grow. I am happy to say that learning more about outreach and serving the Student Academy has significantly challenged me, but also helped me to grow as a leader, for which I am forever grateful.