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SLU PA Program Featured in College Summer Scholars Camp

The Saint Louis University (SLU) Doisy College of Health Sciences (DCHS) hosted its first Summer Scholars Health Care Exploration camp to introduce high school students, specifically those from diverse backgrounds, to allied health professions in June 2021. In addition to introducing high school students to the college’s health care disciplines, the camp is also designed to display the interdisciplinary nature of health care in general.

Attendees of the summer camp learn about health care careers and programs within DCHS through clinical presentations by the college’s experienced faculty. Students learn how different health care professionals collaborate with each other to design a plan of care for a patient’s immediate and long-term needs. Students work on several activities prepared by DCHS faculty throughout the week which are directly related to the clinical case and are encouraged to ask questions about each step in the health care process.

During the camp, the theoretical patient had a physician assistant serve as the health care team leader. Students learned how the PA worked with a patient, treated what they could, then ordered and followed up on lab work, imaging and other treatments that took students through other aspects of the health care system.

Physician Assistant Program Assistant Professor Rhonda Pulver, MHS, PA-C, was one of the DCHS faculty members who participated in the camp. She explained how, even though the PA program is a graduate program, it is great for students to learn about the profession at a young age.

“Preparation for a career in medicine is a long process with a lot of pre-requisites. The sooner a student finds their path, they can get started on all of these requirements,” Pulver said. “Also, PA is a relatively new field compared to other healthcare disciplines (started in 1967). We still find that many prospective students know relatively little about PA as a career option.”

Pulver went on to state that the camp was not only good exposure for the PA profession, but also the other Allied Health profession disciplines.

“Many think that a career in medicine involves being a doctor or a nurse. This camp is a great opportunity to learn about various careers in medicine – there are a lot of options,” Pulver said. “Meeting with faculty and current students during this camp provides a connection to the academic world that many do not have (first generation college students). We hope to develop a mentorship for students who want it.”

This summer was the inaugural year for the DCHS Summer Scholars Camp. After receiving positive feedback from the students who participated, the college intends to host the camp again next summer and make it an annual event for rising high school sophomores and juniors.

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of nearly 13,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of more than 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.