11 Arcadia Students Donate Their Spring Break for Public Health

By Purnell T. Cropper | May 10, 2011

By Jordyn Austin ’14

Eleven Physician Assistant students headed to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., over spring break to provide pro-bono health care to members of the community. Working in conjunction with Remote Area Medical (RAM), students and Arcadia faculty spent two days treating patients with limited access to medical care.

“Students got to use their clinical skills and see how a program like this works… it was community health at its most basic,” says Linda Brasel, Assistant Professor and Clinical Coordinator at the Christiana Campus, who led the experience.

Long lines of people waited for the free clinic, which included dental, vision and medical services. Patients received free eye exams, teeth cleanings, general medical consults, and HIV testing and counseling. Eight first-year students shadowed the three second-year students and assisted with a blood-sugar clinic and dispensed flu vaccines. Second-year students administered immunizations and helped in the women’s health clinic.

“It was a great opportunity to see our faculty treating patients,” says Nicole Linger, a first-year master’s student in the dual degree Physician Assistant and Public Health program. “All year we sit in class and learn about diseases, disorders, treatments, but now we were able to see the same faculty who teach us actually use this information in practice.”

In addition to interacting with the community and learning basic concepts of public health, students also were exposed to different ways in which nonprofits can provide medical care.

“For me, the best part of the trip was viewing the ‘refractory lab truck.’ RAM outfitted a semi-tractor trailer into a glasses-making lab. This particular weekend, they probably made over 200 pairs of glasses which were distributed to patients at no cost,” says Brasel.

“I felt like I was connecting with the community on more than just a patient-provider level,” says Elyse Archila, a dual PA and Public Health major. “It was a really wonderful learning experience for us and has made me more comfortable with performing exams on patients.”

“I would recommend this trip to future students because I feel it is a great opportunity to experience the health care setting in a truly rewarding way,” says Linger.

“The experience provided good exposure for the students and fit perfectly with our spring break,” adds Brasel, who would consider helping out with RAM again in the future.