Physician Assistant Studies celebrates second-ever commencement ceremony

The Physician Assistant Studies program, housed in the Department of Allied Health Sciences, held its second-ever commencement ceremony on December 15, 2018.

Physician Assistant Studies celebrates second-ever commencement ceremony click to enlarge Physician Assistant Studies class of 2018.

The Physician Assistant Studies program, housed in the Department of Allied Health Sciences, held its second-ever commencement ceremony on December 15, 2018.

Paul Chelminski, MD, MPH, FACP, and the program’s director, welcomed and thanked the graduates’ supporters, their families, and the commencement speaker, Lawrence Kim, MD, FACS.

“Everyone here is witnessing and celebrating the remarkable, habitual, and predictable ability of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to translate the power of education into a public good,” Chelminski said.

Stephen Hooper, PhD, the department’s chair and an associate dean in the UNC School of Medicine, said it is gratifying to see graduates begin their careers as PAs.

“You’ve been well prepared to accept these clinical challenges and puzzles head on,” Hooper said. “We look forward to great accomplishments you will go on to achieve.”

More than 40 percent of the graduation class are veterans; the fourth class of PA students will begin coursework in January 2019.

Kim, a recognized expert in the endocrine system and professor of surgery in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Surgery, has championed the PA program since its inception.

“This program has already proven itself an incredible institution,” he said.

Chelminski encouraged graduates to seek the road ahead of them, asking them to remember a phrase in Bambara, the national language of Mali, the country in which he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1980s. The phrase is spoken as a cultural courtesy to hosts in Mali.

“This translates as ‘I want the road,'” Chelminski said. The host, Chelminski explained, responds with “I give you the road,” also in Bambara. “Today, we are applying this to your passage to becoming a PA, which is a social and professional transition.”

He encouraged graduates to be ready for gratitude, profound conversations, generosity, disappointment, and to respond with resiliency. “Be ready. Readiness will bring you joy and fulfillment.”

The program, which welcomed its first class of students in January 2016, is a result of a public-private partnership that includes support from Blue Cross NC, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, and several charitable foundations.

Students and preceptors received the following awards:

Scholastic & Leadership Impact Award

Jeanette Elfering

Making a Difference Award

Kendra Potter

Excellence in Education

Ed Kernick, DPM, associate professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology

Preceptor of the Year

William Mills, Jr., MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics with UNC Health Care

 

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