We salute 34 students who graduated from the School of Medicine's physician assistant (PA) Class of 2020 on Sunday, August 30. Like many other firsts we’ve experienced this year, this was the first PA class to graduate virtually.
Averaging 1,900 hours of prior direct patient care experience across 12 different medical and surgical disciplines, these PAs participated in real-life clinical encounters during the pandemic: helping staff the COVID hotline at University Hospitals; working at a call center at an East Cleveland physician's office; making face masks for a men's shelter; and collecting and delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies to local healthcare systems.
The class also established a CWRU chapter of Primary Care Progress (PCP), a national organization that supports primary care for all, launching a community outreach project to distribute food at local food pantries during the COVID pandemic.
Additionally, two graduates were named Paul Ambrose Scholars by the Association for Prevention, Teaching and Research (APTR), for public health projects they initiated. Alex Ockerse, one of the graduates, recently had his project—creating educational videos about the hazards of vaping—accepted for presentation at the 2020 American Public Health Association Film Festival later this fall.
These newly minted graduates will become part of the network of compassionate physician assistants, prepared to increase access to care for the ever-expanding number of patients seeking medical services in Ohio and across the U.S.
Congratulations and best wishes, PA grads!