By Megan Hale | Reporter
Spurring students along in their pre-health journeys, the Pre-Physician Assistant Society (PAS) at Baylor seeks to provide members with the tools and knowledge necessary to not only be successful in their undergraduate pursuits but also to adequately prepare them for their futures as practicing health care providers.
According to the PAS’s website, the primary goals of the organization are to inform students about the Physician Assistant (PA) profession, aid in the application process to PA schools and increase community and service in the students’ lives.
“The PA Society was started to help pre-PA students who want to become physician assistants kind of come together and form a community and help each other throughout our undergraduate journey as we get ready to apply for PA school,” Houston senior and co-president of the society Uchenna Egwim said. “PA school is kind of different from other healthcare professions, as in there’s not one direct pathway to getting into PA school. There are lots of requirements, like patient contact hours and certain classes, and a lot of people aren’t necessarily educated on how to be a PA or what even a PA does. So we’re just here to help guide students at Baylor with that.”
According to the American Academy for Physician Associates, a PA is a licensed clinician who practices medical treatment and diagnosis in every specialty and setting. They are dedicated to expanding access to care and transforming health and wellness.
Through social events, workshops, service opportunities, mission trips and graduate school visits, Baylor’s Pre-PA Society provides members with a harbor to connect with like-minded students and develop skills and perspectives that will aid them in their future careers.
During spring break, members from the Pre-PA Society had the opportunity to serve beyond borders, putting their clinical knowledge to the test, through a mission trip in the Dominican Republic.
“It was really helpful for all the girls to just see people using their professions and their gifts in a way that serves others,” Allen sophomore and mission trip chair Caroline Kemp said.
By shadowing doctors and assisting at the clinic, students gained real-world experience far beyond the classroom setting.
“We all got really close and all the girls just really were open to sharing their stories with each other, so it was a great bonding activity,” Kemp said. “[It was] also so good for girls to see firsthand people using their professions and their gifts and their time to serve other people and serve God. Just [to] see a little window of how they can do that one day.”
PAS also offers local service opportunities that can be completed both in person and virtually. Each semester, the organization plans several larger capstone service events, including volunteering at the Baylor Bearathon and participating in the city-wide Steppin’ Out service day.
“Last semester, about 40 members and I helped paint this church building in downtown Waco, and that was very rewarding,” Denver, Colo., junior and service chair Avery Fabre said. “I know the pastor was super thankful for us and he even brought us in the building after and prayed over us which was so wonderful and unexpected.”
Service is offered weekly to assist members’ individual schedules. The Pre-PA Society also encourages members to volunteer and shadow health-care professionals at Waco Family Medicine and the Mission Waco Health Clinic.
Virtual service opportunities include taking time out of one’s day to call patients in hospice to simply be a friend to them as they process the challenges of their situation.
Every year, the Pre-PA Society hosts guest speakers — usually practicing PAs or current PA graduate students — to attend their meetings and provide members with advice and mentorship. They also bring in professionals to educate members on how to prepare for the PA school application process, providing best-practice tips on how to stand out.
“I would encourage someone to join the PA Society if they’re interested in being a PA because, in college, it’s so easy to go through the motions and just do classes because you want to get a grade and get caught up in all the to-do lists and getting a major,” Kemp said. “It’s so easy to forget what your end goal is and being in PA Society, coming somewhere once a week or every other week where I’m reminded, ‘okay, this is the long-term goal,’ really refocuses me.”
By providing a network for students to feel supported, the Pre-PA Society is playing its part in launching members into their futures as health-care providers.
“The PA Society is beneficial because I’ve learned little details that have made a difference for me in the way I approached my journey towards becoming a PA that I wouldn’t have known otherwise if I wasn’t a part of this organization,” Egwim said. “I just think it’s really helpful to be around a bunch of people who have the same career goals as you.”