Each year, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, or AAPA, holds a national conference. It is an opportunity for physician assistants and physician assistant students all over the country to come together and grow as health care practitioners. The conference provides many different opportunities for continuing education including lectures given by fellow renowned PAs and physicians in all specialties, workshops, and networking events.
This year, five of Monmouth University’s PA students were able to travel to San Antonio, Texas to attend the conference. Alexa Hetzel-Wells, Kathryn Gaudino, Breynn Collazo, Brielle Trujillo and Sara Kwalwasser are all first year PA students, and members of the second class to matriculate into MU’s brand new program. The students participated in many different activities including various lectures. Some of the topics presented included disaster medicine, pediatric dermatology, kidney disease, septic shock, and end-of-life care.
In addition to attending various lectures and events, Brielle Trujillo had a very special role to play at the conference. She is the AOR, or Assembly of Representatives, student representative for Monmouth University. Each PA program is required to have one representative and they meet yearly at the national conference. Their meetings included electing new members to the SAAPA – student AAPA – executive board, as well as discuss and vote on various referendums which involve PA students. Brielle stated that the meetings were incredibly interesting and that she was able to learn many things from other PA students that she would like to bring back to Monmouth’s program.
By far the favorite event was the Challenge Bowl. The night of the bowl was something that the entire conference, practicing PAs and students alike, looked forward to. The entire auditorium was electric and alive with energy and school spirit. PA programs who wanted to participate had to submit a team of four students to answer various medical knowledge based questions in a tournament-like challenge. The students who participate in the bowl practice for months on end, on top of all of the other schoolwork that must compete, in order to bring back the trophy to their school. The big winner of the night was Miami-Dade College, congratulations to them! Next year, MU hopes to send a team so that the trophy can rest at the Jersey Shore!
During the time at the conference, the students took the opportunity to explore different parts of Texas. San Antonio is an incredible city which had many different incredible sights to see. The famous Riverwalk, which stretches for miles through the heart of the city, was not a disappointment. Authentic Mexican cuisine, Tex-Mex favorites, and even a dueling piano bar were just a few of the highlights of the Riverwalk!
Looking back on the trip, we would have to say that we learned a great deal from our experience and grew as individuals, which will benefit us as future health care providers. We can’t wait to bring back what we learned to our program so that the rest of the PA students can benefit as well!