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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 second annual Summer Scholars Health Care Exploration camp to introduce high school students, specifically those from diverse backgrounds, to allied health professions in June 2022. 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 stay on SLU’s campus in one of the dormitories for the week and participate in organized activities.

Summer Scholars Medical Demonstration
A SLU PA student provides a demonstration to some of the high school Summer Scholars participants.

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.

“In the grand scheme of things, PA and nurse practitioners are new professions. SLU was one of the first formal PA programs, starting in 1971. Many do not know much about the profession in general, so raising awareness is important,” Pulver said. “The pre-requisites to enter any PA school are rigorous and students need to get started on them as soon as possible when they decide that PA might be right for them.”

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.

“The medical field is vast, if students do not have personal experience, they have likely never heard of many of the professions at DCHS. Students generally know they are interested in medicine of some sort very early on but often just think of doctors and nurses. We want to give them the most information possible to find the right career for them,” Pulver said. “Also, students have many choices for medical training and seeing life at SLU is very important to help them find the right place for them too. The mentoring opportunities during camp to connect with current students and faculty are priceless.”

This summer was the second year for the DCHS Summer Scholars Camp. After receiving positive feedback from the students who participated in the camp its first two years, the college intends to continue the event in the years to come, making 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.