Physician Assistants Celebrate Alumni and Student Achievements

PA ReceptionAs National Physician Assistant (PA) Week kicked off on October 6, two events allowed the PA Department to applaud the success of its past and present students. On Friday afternoon a special alumni and friends reception was held in the Hafter Student Center to honor the 2017 PA Alumna of the Year, Christine T. McAndrew, MMS ’09, PA-C.
McAndrew is a certified physician assistant to Dr. L. Scott Levin, the chairman of the department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the supervisor of advanced practice in the department, supervising 40 advanced practitioners, and serves as the hand transplant coordinator for the adult and pediatric hand transplant programs at Penn and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). In July 2015, she was an integral part of the Penn Medicine/CHOP team that trained together for 18 months and then performed the world’s first pediatric bilateral hand transplant on eight-year-old Zion Harvey.
The reception started with a warm welcome from PA program director Donna Agnew, MSPAS, PA-C. She continued on to explain the significance of the day - October 6 is National PA Day, which commemorates the first graduating class from Duke’s inaugural PA program 50 years ago in 1967. It also is significant as the founder of the PA field, Dr. Eugene Stead Jr.’s, birthday.
“Dr. Stead recognized the potential of students who were dedicated to the service of patient needs and mentored them in the completion of a fast-track medical training curriculum,” Agnew said. “Critical to its success, he also marketed it to his physician colleagues as a means of addressing the challenges of physician shortages in meeting the nation’s healthcare needs.”
Jessica GoldbergJessica Goldberg, MMS ’14, PA-C, Alumni Association Board member, explained that although the PA program is only 10 years old at Salus, its graduates have made meaningful contributions to the field of medicine. She noted McAndrew‘s ability to not only treat patients efficiently, but also with empathy.

“Chrissy has a wonderful ability to treat each patient with compassion and respect, having the knowledge and skills to guide their care in the appropriate direction,” she said. “She goes above and beyond for her patients and sets the perfect example of what a PA is and should be.”
McAndrew thanked all in attendance for the award and offered some words of advice to the future PAs in the room.
“As challenging as this program may seem, continue to persevere because you will succeed,” she advised. “It is all worth it in the end. Second, as you begin your career, keep a positive outlook to continually climb the professional ladder. Strive to not only help our patients, but also to help our fellow physician assistants. Third, please take time to care for yourself. Don’t burn yourself out. We are continually serving others and often times do not think about ourselves.”
As another highlight, on October 8, graduating PA students received their long white coats in a commemorative reception at the Hafter Student Center. The 42 graduating students were joined by their families, friends and members of the Salus community to celebrate the culmination of their studies. Two awards were given to preceptors for their dedication to the program. Steven Schmidt, DO, and Kenneth Wiseman, DO, were honored with the Outstanding Service Award, while Lawrence Miller, DO, received the Preceptor of the Year Award. Retired faculty member Marlee Vause also received an honorary induction into the Pi Alpha National Honors Society. 

PA Long White Coat Ceremony
Photo Credit: Alexander W. Van Dyck, ‘18OD, ‘19MPH

“The Long White Coat Ceremony symbolizes our graduates’ professional transition from student to clinician and their lifelong commitment to quality patient care,” Agnew said. “It also affords an informal venue for graduates to reminisce and for faculty, staff, friends and family to applaud their many accomplishments.”