PAs in the News

Foster Hunt

Foster Hunt serves veterans through the Navigate Counseling Clinic

Service-learning projects are one of many requirements for first-semester physician assistant studies students in the College of Allied Health Sciences. But when PA student Foster Hunt wasn't compelled by any of the usual sites for the assignment, he forged his own path.

Hunt earned an undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University in information technology before beginning five years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he worked closely with doctors, medics and Navy corpsmen. After deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, he sought more opportunities to work in field medicine and began to consider returning to school in the health sciences.

Read more about Foster Hunt here.


Natalie Smith

PA Studies professor advances urgent care research

A College of Allied Health Sciences’ faculty member in Physician Assistant Studies is prompting emergency department clinicians to thoroughly analyze urinalysis results for the possible diagnosis of serious illnesses.

Natalie Smith, a clinical assistant professor and practicing physician assistant in emergency medicine, was published in the Journal of Urgent Care Medicine after she determined that routine urinalysis results can show an underlying presence of potentially life-threatening diseases. In her article, “Hyperbilirubinemia – An Urgent Care Approach,” Smith describes how she was able to link the presence of bilirubin in urine to a serious diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Read the full story here.



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Alspaugh Presented with NCAPA Scholarship

Brandon Alspaugh, a second-year student in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies was presented with the NCAPA Endowment scholarship from the North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants. These educational scholarships are awarded to one second/final-year student at each PA program in the state who is a member of NCAPA and submits a strong endowment grant application.


2014 PA Simulation Labs

Check out photos of our PA students doing some great hands-on learning through simulation labs!


2014 PA Simulation Labs

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PA Students International Rotation Story Featured on ECU Homepage

Check out the story about PA students Amy Petticrew & Cara Bailey and their trip to Belize for an international clinical rotation featured on the homepage of the University website here.

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PA Students Receive Hands-On Training With New Patient Simulator

If you walk by the Department of Physician Assistant Studies lab in the College of Allied Health Sciences, you may notice someone lying alone on a hospital bed. Don't be alarmed, our students haven't abandoned an ailing patient, that's just the new patient simulator waiting for the next round of students to practice medical procedures and diagnoses skills with him. Read more about the new SimMan here.




PA Student Brandon Alspaugh chosen as Oral Health Champion

Brandon Alspaugh, a student in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies has recently been selected as an Oral Health Champion by the Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (SAAAPA) and in partnership with the NCCPA Health Foundation. Brandon has demonstrated exemplary dedication to oral health in PA education and practice and will serve as one of thirteen pioneering student Champions charged to engage other PA students and programs in the PA Leadership Initiative in Oral Health.  The initiative is poised to engage the students in leadership and outreach opportunities, while bringing to their peers important messages about oral health as a primary care innovation and an interprofessional learning opportunity. To recognize Brandon's leadership within the PA program, he was awarded a $500 academic scholarship and will have the opportunity to apply for an additional $300 to support change through a project of his choice. The Champions will also be funded $250 if they choose to attend IMPACT 2014 to participate in oral health outreach projects and be part of the leadership team teaching an oral health educational session.

Marty Mayer PA 02

Mayer Selected as US Fellow for British Medical Journal

Martin Mayer, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies, has been invited to be a member of the US Board of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Fellows. Mayer is the first physician assistant to be offered this role.

As a US Fellow with the BMJ, he will: serve as a representative and liaison for the BMJ and US authors (e.g. by encouraging submission of important research to the BMJ), give advice to the journal to help continue to both raise its impact and nurture interest in the US, and provide editorial comments and peer review.

The BMJ is one of the world's leading general medical journals and the fourth most cited general medical journal in the world, and the most cited open access general medical journal in the world.

"I have been an enormous fan of the BMJ since I first started reading medical journals given their steadfast dedication and rigorous approach to evidence-based medicine, and the fact that they make their content open access is nothing short of phenomenal," said Mayer. He says he is truly honored to be offered this role, especially since he is the first physician assistant to be in this role.

Daniel and Bunting

Bunting & Daniel-Yount Present Lecture 

Physician Assistant Clinical Assistant Professors, Elizabeth Bunting and Julie Daniel-Yount presented a lecture entitled "Preceptor Recruitment and Retention through the Lenses of a New and Established Program". The lecture was given in collaboration with the Clinical Coordinating Faculty at Elon University, Diane Duffy and Tracey Tonsor during the annual Physician Assistant Education Association Educational Forum held in Memphis this year. 

In the session, Bunting and Daniel-Yount represented an established program and focused on preceptor retention while the lecturers from Elon University focused on preceptor recruitment, as their program is just beginning and has not had a clinical group yet.  Bunting and Daniel-Yount were able to highlight collaborative efforts that the North Carolina Physician Assistant Programs have had in the Clinical Phase in the last year with a meeting at the Stead Center in Durham, NC and hosted by Duke University PA Program. 


BOYBANDemia takes their show on the road

Sean Russell and Joe Bartholomew, second year physician assistant students, made quite an impact at this year's 41st annual American Academy of Physician Assistants (APAA) national conference when they presented their "new age" approach to promoting healthy lifestyles with their music group parody, BOYBANDemia.

Created by Russell and Bartholomew, along with a third member, Adam Rhodes,

BOYBANDemia began as a class project to promote smoking cessation. Lyrics for popular 90's songs were re-written, vocals recorded, and a music video was produced and uploaded on YouTube. Reaching 10,000+ views in the first month, the group went on to write, record, and produce two more parodies about obesity and CPR education, which combined reached over 85,000 views.

Considerable media attention prompted the AAPA research project manager to invite the group to present their unique project at the AAPA conference. Physician assistants and PA students from all over the nation were in attendance as Russell and Bartholomew debuted their unconventional approach to educating the general public about the most common causes of mortality in the US.

Russell, Bartholomew and Rhodes plan to produce additional videos in the near future, but are all currently on rotations in different parts of the state.

"If these music videos make you laugh, then they've done their job, if it makes you get healthier, then we've done ours," said BOYBANDemia.


Ricker elected president of the Student Academy of the AAPA

Melissa Ricker, a second-year physician assistant studies student, was elected president of the Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) board of directors for the 2013-2014 term at the AAPA 41st annual national conference held in Washington, DC, May 25-29.

Ricker concluded her 2012-2013 term as the southeast regional director for the Student Academy of the AAPA.Ricker was the first student from ECU and North Carolina to represent the southeast region and its 38 schools.

"Serving as southeast regional director this past year has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my recent past," says Ricker.

In her role as regional director, Ricker communicated with students from each school in the southeastern United States to inform their programs about how to get involved with the Student Academy, encourage participation in national programs and events and motivate them to become more informed and proactive PA students.

"I want to continue to use my creativity and passion for getting students involved, and I look forward to serving the role of president of the Student Academy." Ricker said.

AAPA's Annual Physician Assistant Conference is the largest annual gathering of PAs with an attendance of over 7400 PAs and PA students.

Ricker, who received a bachelor's degree in biology from N.C. State University, expects to graduate from the PA program in December.

Victoria Bennis01

Victoria Bennis,a first-year PA student, was awarded the 2013 Student Paragon Award.  The award is given to a student who has demonstrating exemplary service as a PA student.

Bennis is very active in the community, organizing multiple health promotion events at a local elementary school, and raising awareness in the school systems and community through her organization, Save A Life. She said that she is honored to be one of many to proudly represent East Carolina University.





2013 conference-medical knowledge bowl team01

Amy Petticrew, Holley Spears, and Mercedes Camprubi-Soms represented ECU in the National Medical Challenge Bowl, and they made sure to display plenty of pirate pride!

Of the 68 teams competing, the ECU PA team placed in the top 36 schools in first round, advancing them to the second round to compete live on stage in a jeopardy style elimination contest. 

Although the Pirate PAs did not secure the win, they had a great time competing against their peers and celebrating the PA profession. 









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