The Physician Assistant Studies program received recognition in a Veterans Day celebration, held in the lobby at UNC Children’s Hospital, on Monday, November 12, 2018. The event honored UNC Health Care employees, students, and local residents who currently serve or have served in the armed forces. The PA program is housed in the Department of Allied Health Sciences and will celebrate its second class of students at graduation on Saturday, December 15, 2018.
During the ceremony, PA program Director Paul Chelminski, MD, MPH, FACP, provided notes on the program’s fourth class of students who will begin coursework in January 2019. The class of 2020 had 800 applicants for 20 spots; 35 percent of incoming students are veterans. The national average hovers around four percent; veteran students in the PA program are eight-times the national average in terms of representation.
Chelminski spoke about an incoming student who launched Tomahawk cruise missiles while serving in the U.S. Navy. Eventually, this student transitioned to a role of officer and became responsible for the health and welfare of her sailors. “Isn’t this the type of person we want to invite into our educational environment? Isn’t this the type of person we want practicing in your communities?” Chelminski asked. The applicant, a mother who is 38, grew up in south Texas and in her application essay described the poverty she faced during childhood. Chelminski noted that the Navy was this applicant’s first pathway from poverty to opportunity and service. “The UNC PA program is now proud to accept the handoff,” he said. “Opportunity does not time out, does not sunset at the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Hospitals.”
The celebration also included presentations a representative at American Legion, Post 6; and by Congressman David Price, 4th district, North Carolina.