Physician Assistant Program Happenings
RRCC News: Graduation of 13th Physician Assistant Class
The Red Rocks Community College Physician Assistant (PA) program honored its 13th graduating class on August 17. In a joint ceremony, the program welcomed its new class of 31 students, promoted 28 current students to their clinical year in a traditional white coat ceremony, and graduated 29 students. Debra Nickell, PA Program Director, presided over the ceremony. Dr. Sacramento Pimentel was also in attendance to present a scholarship named in his honor.
The Pimentel Rural Primary Care Scholarship was awarded to Ashton Redstone. Jason Valderrama earned the Conrad Rural Primary Care Scholarship. Two Mission Awards were awarded to students who exemplified the program’s mission of supporting underserved populations. Award recipient Madison Nott accepted a position in Holdrege, Nebraska which is located 30 miles from her hometown. She will work with a community of 5,500 people and also serve rural communities throughout southwest Nebraska and northwest Kansas. Winner of the second Mission Award, Rebecca Broda, accepted a position at the Salud Community Health Center in Fort Morgan, Colorado. Salud Health Centers offer medical care to low and no-income individuals and families. Dean Lori A. Burns, RN, MSN, presented the Award for Academic Excellence to two outstanding PA program students; Paul Meier and Sarah Brock, who both maintained high GPAs for the entirety of the program.
Class of 2013 White Coat Ceremony
On May 15, 2012, the Program hosted the White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2013. Dr. John Witwer spoke on the historical significance of the white coat in the medical field. In modern medical education, a White Coat Ceremony signifies the transition of students from pre-clinical work to clinical education. The Class of 2013 is the first class that will experience the clinically- integrated curriculum with the start of clinical education occurring in June, July, and August.
Pictured below: Dr. John Witwer with PA student Sarah Hart; Dr. Debra Nickell congratulates PA student Micah Johnson.
RRCC PA Students Visit Medical Clinic with Governor
Senior PA students, Tiffany Anderson, Laura Miller, and Paul Meier join adjunct instructor, Dr. Steve Russell, as they host a visit from Governor Hickenlooper at the Wheatridge Regional Center medical clinic.
PA Instructor Awarded Instructor of the Year by Student Voice
Congratulations to Dr. John Witwer who was honored as part-time RRCC Instructor of the Year by the Student Voice.
Rio Grand Hospital
Faculty Receives Service to Mankind Award
Faculty member, Stephanie Bacon, PA-C, received the Service to Mankind Award by the Sertoma Club. The name SERTOMA is derived from the organization’s mission statement, SERvice TO MANkind. Its dedication to community service has motivated the membership since the founding of the organization in 1912. She was honored for her 400 volunteer hours at Doctor’s Care, seeing pediatric patients one day per week. She says this helps to keep her skills current. She really enjoys being with the kids and says it’s her “play day.”
In mid-summer there was an air of anticipation as the Red Rocks PA Program awaited the arrival of 67 iPads from the Apple manufacturing facility in China. All PA students and fulltime program faculty members have now received an iPad. The distribution of Apple’s latest multimedia device is part of a pilot project Red Rocks is sponsoring to look at how these devices can be used in PA education.
RRCC PA Program Director, Debra Nickell explained, “We started out with three separate challenges for which we thought there would be three separate solutions. It now looks like the iPad may be a solution to all three and will give us a lot more in the bargain.” Red Rocks was looking for better ways to deliver high definition diagnostic images during lectures in the classroom. Second, the program wanted to provide textbooks electronically. The primary intent was to cut the cost of texts for the students, but also to get rid of what many PA students on clinical rotations experience: a car trunk full of reference books that they haul all over the state. The third challenge the program faced was that preceptors who were converting to EMR/EHR were beginning to decline student placements. Dr. Nickell continued, “They couldn’t afford the cost of a tablet or terminal dedicated for student use and we couldn’t incur the cost of supplying a device to every clinical site. It looks like the iPad will be able to emulate or access each site’s EMR/EHR and the device goes with the student. In initial contacts, preceptors have accepted this as a possible solution to the EMR/EHR challenge.”
Clinical year students on their very first rotation, and within days of receiving the iPad, have already been using the device to enter patients into the program’s internet-based patient logging system, doing online assignments, completing internet-based learning modules, checking email, and doing research for presentations to their preceptors.
Heather Lee, a clinical year student said, “I use it daily in the clinic. The first week I waited until the evening to enter patients into [the patient logging system] and it would take about 45 minutes. Now I use the iPad to enter patients as I see them and I spend less time in the evening and provide more detail because I remember more. Having the iPad allows me to always have access to medical info without having to wait on a computer to be free in the clinic.”
One of Heather’s classemates, Amanda Raube, commented, “I don’t have a laptop so the iPad has come in very handy and saved me money too.”
Another student, Don Winder, added, “Having a library the size of a small notepad constantly with me has helped to quickly access and more easily retain the information I need while my mind has that question still fresh. PDAs are great, however, with the iPad I can bring up better images for patients, there are many more practical applications, and I can actually read the information more easily. I see so much potential for greater learning for students and for the patients with the help of the iPad.”
Faculty member, Jeanne Bird, has used the iPad for researching questions on the Pathway II recertification exam and for conducting the women’s health course she teaches, “The clarity of the pictures that was lost using the old projection method will come through nicely on the iPad.”
Joseph Sanchez, Director of Library and Learning Services at Red Rocks, provides context for this project within the larger educational environment, “While the ebook world is in a constant state of flux and change, one thing is very clear: all the various constituents involved in publishing see the ebook as the future. Ebooks have finally come into their own, and will be replacing the physical book in the very near future as the standard form of content management. Five hundred years of human history is about to change forever, as Gutenberg’s famous innovation is finally replaced.”
For this pilot project, the Red Rocks PA Program has not discouraged personal use of the iPADS or the downloading of applications designed solely for entertainment or personal use. Dr. Nickell clarifies, “We now have a cohort of 67 users who are out there scouring the environment for apps and uses. It’s all good right now. It will make us better users of the device in both educational and clinical environments. In just one 24 hour period, I used my iPad to conduct a lecture in the classroom, pull a video from the internet for a future lecture, create a slide presentation, check email, do a literature search, perform a medication interaction check on a complex patient in clinic, play a game with my grandson, watch a movie, and download several free novels. ”
Christa Dobbs, a faculty member who is researching ways to incorporate physical activity into the curriculum added, “The iPad gives me the flexibility to take my classes outside or change locations easily while the students are able to have the presentation notes right in front of them. The iPad has been a great portable tool for taking notes and developing presentations and lectures anytime, anywhere.”
Ms. Dobb’s comments ended with the phrase now ubiquitous in the RRCC PA Program, “Sent from my iPad!”
An iPad teaching session with faculty member Christa Dobbs and two didactic year students.