James Madison University

PA Student Elected Regional Director

PHOTO:Rachel QuinnRachel Quinn ‘17 attended the conference of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) in San Antonio, TX in May 2016.  Her original purpose for attending was to participate in the Challenge Bowl, a medical trivia competition between all PA programs.  While there she became aware of the Student Academy of the American Academy of PA (SAAAPA) which focuses on empowering students to become qualified, well informed practitioners as well as promoting the PA profession.  Quinn explained, “These objectives are met largely through volunteer groups, which are made up of PA students from across the nation and coordinated by members of the Board of Directors.  Each volunteer group is focused on a resolution or goal that is determined at our annual conference by representatives from every PA program in the country.  It’s a great way for students to be involved and active in the advancement of the profession.”

By attending SAAPA meetings she learned more about the support the organization gives to students and was drawn to the idea of supporting her fellow students and serving as a link between them and the AAPA.

Running for the office of Regional Director of the Mid-Atlantic Region was a spur of the moment decision Quinn made while attending the conference.  The process involved creating a platform and presenting it in a speech in front of the Assembly of Representatives after which she was elected to the office.  Her platform focused on the importance of communication between PA programs and having a strong voice as the future of the profession.  Some of the current issues the organization will tackle include removing unnecessary and prohibitive barriers to the PA practice, as well as optimizing the recertification process for PAs.

Quinn outlines her duties, “As Regional Director, I bring challenges and achievements experienced within each of the programs in my region to the attention of the Student Academy Board for further discussion.  This gives a voice to the PA students so they can improve and celebrate the process of becoming PAs.  We also facilitate communication so that PA students are informed about the challenges and opportunities awaiting them upon graduation and entrance into the medical field.  I also make sure that resources provided by AAPA are readily available to students.  There are great opportunities such as job connections, practice materials for our board certification exam, and discounts on books. My term started in July of 2016 and I will serve through June of 2017.”

Quinn had been interested in medicine since high school however it was a routine physical that prompted her interest in becoming a PA.  She tried to make a pre-college appointment with her primary care physician who was booked and instead was seen by the PA.   “I asked the PA about her job and she told me about her ability to help others in their most vulnerable state.  I was hooked.  PAs are able to come out of a shorter period of schooling and immediately make a difference in the lives of patients when they need the most support.  PAs are also able to switch between specialties of medicine after finishing school, which appealed to me as well.  I have an interest in several areas of medicine and love the idea that I can work in several areas of medicine throughout my career."

The JMU PA program was attractive because of the small class sizes and the approachable professors who are ready to help with questions or concerns.   “Overall I’ve had a great experience so far and can’t wait to see what the second half of the program will bring.”

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