A Rock and a Hard Place

Not only do we, as future providers, need to know how to diagnose and treat patients, but we also have a responsibility to prevent disease whenever we can. Certainly we can provide counseling in our offices for patients to encourage them to stop smoking, lose weight, exercise more, drink more water, eat more vegetables, eat less fat, eat more of the right fat, reduce sodium, drink alcohol, don’t drink alcohol, get screened for cancer, buy a dog, engage in leisure activities to reduce stress…this list is endless. Almost all disease prevention requires effort from the patient. As we have learned, and almost anyone can see if they consider the generally poor health of their neighbors, people prefer pills, not plans to make themselves healthy. The incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer are on the rise. More shockingly, in 2014 when we have the technology and knowhow to video chat with friends on all corners of the globe from a hand held device, the incidence of infectious disease is on the rise.

In the last year, news of the spread of Ebola has caught the attention of the world. That attention brought support and aid which have been effective at reducing the rate of spread and the distance to which the disease has spread. People came together to work toward a common goal: to reduce the morbidity and mortality of a disease. Unfortunately the Ebola Virus is not the only infectious disease that is getting global attention. Here, in the wonderful United States of America, diseases that were almost non-existent are beginning to reemerge in children and affect the function of schools and communities which not only inhibits learning but can have potentially fatal consequences in persons with weak immune systems. Many parents are blatantly disregarding the importance of vaccinating their children against diseases. A growing number of educated affluent whites are taking a dangerous stance against this preventative option, not on the basis of religious objections, but because some past-their-prime former model made claims that a vaccine was responsible for her child’s unfortunate Autism.

Since that claim “studies” have been published claiming that they have found links between vaccines and any number of morbid medical conditions. What about all of the epidemiological data that exists which shows beyond a doubt that vaccines do not cause harm, and in fact have improved the health of billions of people here in the US let alone globally? Decades of monitoring, studies, studies of studies, meta analyses, and billions of humans can all attest to the fact that vaccines have improved public health and reduced the burden of sick individuals on their families and the healthcare systems. And let me be clear on this fact: none of the so called studies that have tried to connect vaccine use with a negative outcome have followed scientific protocols or procedures, and with that poorly gathered data impossible speculations have been made to try and give the vaccines a bad reputation. Many of the “connections” are strictly coincidental. They are as coincidental as my bicycle crash this morning and the turkey dinner I had two weeks ago. And, for the record, all of the “research” that people were using to support the movement against vaccines have been unanimously discredited.

So where does this leave us as future practitioners? Between a rock and a hard place.

How do we dispel these rumors and encourage our patients to utilize vaccines? We are likely to be accused of being in cahoots with the drug companies, or trying to make our practice more money. How can we prove to our average family that the vaccine works? Their children simply don’t get sick, but do they know they were exposed and that the antibodies the vaccine helped them create were effective at destroying a pathogen before it created a disease state?

This is a delicate conundrum which will test our ability to communicate, our resolve, our respect and reverence, and force us to flirt with that fine line between educating and coercing. I personally believe that this challenges our very foundation of primum non nocere. By failing to encourage vaccination we may be putting others in harm’s way. There is no easy answer but we will all be faced with the difficult task of educating people about the true benefits and risks of vaccination. Working with our patients to encourage participation in vaccination programs is as important as counseling them on the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices as adults. Perhaps vaccination is itself a lifestyle choice.

And you thought getting into PA school was the hard part…

Sam Elzay PAS-1, Campbell PA Class of 2016

A Day in the Life of a PA student at Campbell University

Processed with RookieRobin Johnson, PAS-1

7: 55 My alarm gives me a near Myocardial Infarction.


I snooze to 8:00 and think Why don’t I just set my alarm for 8:00?

I sprint to make coffee!!!! Wait, I forgot to buy coffee filters? What was I thinking?! Oh yeah, I was thinking about heart failure drugs and how I really should have started studying those two years ago. Crap.

8:15 I throw on a dress and find matching shoes. Jewelry? Not today. Not without my coffee.

8:30 Unlocking the car door, I remember that I haven’t brushed my hair yet, good thing I’m early due to skipping coffee. I run inside, wave to the confused dog, and brush my hair. Okay, that’s better!

8:45 I set up my computer and smell all my classmate’s scrumptious cups of coffee. Hmph, I have 15 minutes to go downstairs and grab some.


8:55 Mrs. Johnson comes in with announcements and reminds us that “Patients come first!” Meanwhile, my coffee tastes divine.

9:00 I start three hours of History and Physical. I am determined to take better notes than last week! No more playing with the highlighter feature in One Note. Okay maybe just one ginormous star, but that’s it.

9:15 Hand cramp!

9:50 All the girls sprint to the bathroom. It’s really quite entertaining to see.

10:00 Back to History and Physical after sufficiently stretching out my “thenar and hypothenar.” Don’t worry I didn’t know what it was either until PA school.

10:30 Time to practice on each other down in the OMM lab. I don’t know how many more labs I can pretend to know what I’m doing, I think they’re on to me.

12:00 Lunch time! I run home and warm up some soup. I really should study during my lunch hourtomorrow definitely!

13:00 Look at me, I’m on time. Physiology means Dr. Hall will play the pancreas song. Never gets old. Is it weird to sing along? I better not. Back to my ferocious typing escapade.

13:13 HAND CRAMP, whoa that was a bad one.

13:50 There is another mad dash to the bathroom. HA, I moved up three spots in the line-up from this morning, I should’ve run track.

14:00 Dr. Hall always asks us if we have any more classes after this, and we always say yes. So she has pity on us and shows us some “Hello Kidney” cartoons. That darn kidney is too cute.


15:00 One hour of genetics stands between me and…. studying all night. Our poor genetics teacher gets us at the end of every Monday and I’m sure we look like this.


16:00 Welppp I better go home and make some Ramen Noodle and study for this week’s two exams!

17:00 I take a bite of my noodles while opening up today’s lecture notes. I should really learn to cook.

17:15 I stumble upon 6 ginormous highlighter stars, man I don’t even remember doing all those. I go to make coffee for this study session, CRAP I still don’t have coffee filters. I study for several more hours before having an epic debate whether to go run or not. I look at my #tbt post from before PA school started and decide I definitely need to go run.

22:00 One more hour of intense studying and then I’m off to bed. Should I change my alarm to 8:00? No, I need that 5 extra minutes to brush my hair. 

I fall asleep feeling so grateful that the reason I’m so tired is because I’m working towards the career of my dreams. I feel very blessed to call Campbell PA home and to get to do it all over again tomorrow. Mental note: must buy coffee filters.


Campbell PA Class of 2016

Are we overreacting to the Ebola Virus? A PAS-1 Perspective

As I was getting ready to take my daughter in for her annual check-up, I received two phone calls from the pediatrician asking if we had traveled out of the country in the last thirty days. Once we arrived at the office, I was again asked the same question. Although awareness of the danger of Ebola is present, it is not surprising that the CDC and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital failed to communicate and control the spread of Ebola from a patient who contracted the deadly disease overseas.

We should be worried about the Ebola virus, especially when it is fatal in 50-90% of cases with no approved vaccine or cure, but we must not overreact. It is important to watch for symptoms such as fever, fatigue, sore throat, muscle pain, and headaches, followed by vomiting, diarrhea and a rash. It can sometimes take up to 21 days for symptoms to develop, and patients are not contagious until they develop symptoms. The first patient in Texas Thomas Duncan who contracted the Ebola virus overseas sought medical help, but unfortunately he was sent home. Presently, we have two nurses who contracted the virus while taking care of Thomas Duncan. Although we don’t know the details of the breach of protocol that allowed the transmission of the virus between the patient and the nurses, we must be cautious in drawing any conclusions. It is unclear at this point whether anyone else was infected while one of the nurses traveled on a commercial flight.

It is truly sad that the virus has spread, but we must learn from the mistakes that were made. We should increase airport screenings of people traveling into the country from West Africa. We should also communicate and track the current cases across various federal and state agencies. One should take individual responsibility and stay home when one is sick. I believe that we can control the spread of the Ebola Virus, but we must work together rather than criticize each other. Our hearts and prayers are with the health care providers that contracted the virus while taking care of the Ebola Virus patients here and overseas.

Reham Ghali, PAS-1

Campbell PA Class of 2016



No looking back!

The Campbell University Physician Assistant Class of 2015 concluded their didactic year at the end of July and officially started Clinical Rotations August 18th, 2014! It’s been so amazing to transition from a full year of didactic learning to clinical education! Our classmates are spread all around North Carolina for our clinical rotations including Buies Creek, Greensboro, Wilmington, Triangle Area [Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill], Charlotte……………………….and even California!!!!! We have already had our first call back day and enjoyed seeing each other and swapping “first clinical rotation” stories.

Though the Class of 2016 now occupies our 44 seats in the Leon Levine Hall of Medical Sciences, we couldn’t leave without showing the world what CUPA2015 is all about! This medical parody was created, edited and directed by our classmates and produced by Aaron Gauger. It really sums up our year as PA Students! It includes all the members of our class and faculty. Watch and enjoy!

“Campbell’s in the building, our hands are in the ceiling…We know we’re ’bout to kill it. How we know? We got that feeling!”

The Class of 2015 is off to an amazing 2nd year. No looking back now!

Suzzette Van-Lare, PA-S2
MPAP Candidate, Class of 2015

The start of something new!

The Campbell University Physician Assistant Class of 2015 arrived on campus August 19, 2013 and has been taking Buies Creek by storm ever since! I am a proud member of this class that is composed of 44 men and women from all different backgrounds coming together to embark on this amazing journey. It’s hard to believe that in only four months we have learned more material than we ever thought we could process, thoroughly dissected human cadavers, performed head-to-toe physical exams and formed lasting friendships. We have completed our first semester of PA School and anxiously await the start of classes next week. Now is a more appropriate time than ever to relive the highlights (in pictures!) from this amazing semester.

Before classes started, the PA-1’s got together for a class picnic and a night of karaoke at a local sports bar.

Marisa, Brittney, Nick, Morgan and Natalie playing a game of pool at a get-together before classes started!

Marisa, Brittney, Morgan and Natalie playing a game of pool at a get-together before classes started!

What I love most about my class is how much we all support each other! If it’s someone’s birthday or even if we just had a hard week of classes…we all get together to unwind and reboot for the next week.

Sarah F., Sarah M., Leighanne, Alexa on our first day of school!

Sarah F., Sarah M., Leighanne, Alexa on our first day of school!

Sarah F., Sarah M., Leighanne and Alexa were excited for orientation week. Alexa is the president of our class.

Jeff, Bradley, Braxton and Andy on the first day of school!

Jeff, Bradley, Braxton and Andy on the first day of school!

The guys in our program are a little bit outnumbered, but we all get along as a group. :-)

Perri, Amanda, Suzzette, Marisa, Krista, Sarah M., Kaley, Danielle, Aimee, Kristina, Alexa and Sarah F. on the first day of school. Sarah M. has the right idea with the cup of coffee she is holding in the front. Coffee was the theme of this semester!

Marisa, Sarah F., Heather, Kaley, Anna, Sarah M., Hallie, Alexa, Brittany, Kristina, Christine, Vaishali and Leighanne getting ready to receive their white coats!

After a long week of classes, Marisa, Perri, Brittany, Sarah M., Bradley, Alexa and Anna get together with several classmates and teach us how to ‘dougie’!

pa7pa8Braxton, Jonathan, Diana, Heather, Brittney, Kondie, Alexa, Richard, Christine and Brittany at the historic ribbon cutting ceremony. Our class is so grateful to call the Leon Levine Hall of Medical Sciences ‘home’. The class took some group pictures in front of the building afterwards with our program director Mr. Coletti and our professor Dr. Stewart.

pa9PA Week 2013! Richard, Kim, Ed, Jonathan and Cindy stand proudly beside their poster to promote blood pressure awareness. During PA Week the Class of 2015 headed to campus to offer free blood pressure screenings, sell baked goods to fund raise for the program and promote awareness of the PA profession.

pa10Hmmm…I wonder what his blood pressure was?

pa1The Class of 2015 made history when they represented the Campbell PA Program in the 2013 homecoming parade. We were the first class to do so. Marisa, Vaishali, Danielle, Brittany, Suzzette, Eric, Kim, Alexa, Kaley, Nick, Bradley, Amanda, Emma and our furry friends dressed up in superhero costumes and made signs and a ‘float’. It was an amazing experience and yet another way to spread awareness about our profession. We threw goodies at the crowd and even yelled out helpful statistics! I may be biased, but I think we were a crowd favorite! ;-)

pa2pa1The class poses for a photo at the homecoming parade, and our classmate Amanda and her daughter ride ‘Gaylord’ our friendly mascot.

pa1pa1One of the best things about living near Raleigh is the NC State Fair. Eric, Perri, Marisa, Ellen, Bradley Sarah M., Alexa, Kristina, Anna, Natalie, Danielle, Aimee, Krista and Kaley pose for a picture before they see the attractions!

pa1Our class is so supportive of each other. When it was Kaley’s birthday we all went out to dinner to celebrate! Happy Birthday Kaley!

pa1Kim puts on gloves to prepare for a free diabetic foot screening at a local pharmacy. It’s amazing how much we have learned in our first year!

pa1Perhaps one of the most special things that happened this year was the charter Class of 2013 graduating. The PA Class of 2015 threw a celebratory party for all classes to attend which we named, “Save the Last PANCE”. We are so proud of the Class of 2013 for paving the way and we wish them the best of luck as they excel on their boards and in clinical practice!

pa1 pa2 pa3 pa4 pa5 pa7 pa8 pa9 pa10 pa11 pa12
What better way to end this awesome year? We came, we saw and we conquered…and we are ready to do it all over again!

Happy Holidays!
Suzzette Van-Lare, PAS-1
MPAP Candidate, Class of 2015

Let the second semester begin!

After a much appreciated winter break, it’s amazing to look back on the past few months and realize just how much we’ve learned and how many activities my classmates and I have participated in together.  Instead of a lengthy written post, I’d like to share a few of our first semester highlights with photos taken by classmates Kat MacDougal and Richelle Bangi.  Enjoy, and happy  new year!

Molly Stapleton Calabria, PAS-1
MPAP Candidate, Class of 2014

Carolina PANCErs in Intramural Football

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

PA Week 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Keeping clean our Adopt-a-Highway section

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dressed up as Medical Director Dr. Stewart for Halloween

Dr. Stewarts!

Thanksgiving Potluck (a new Campbell PA Program tradition???)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Volunteering with the Vision Van

Putting together gifts for Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child

Introducing the Class of 2014

This is National PA Week, held each year to promote awareness about the Physician Assistant profession, and I can think of no better time to introduce Campbell’s newest class of Physician Assistant students!

It’s hard to believe, but it was only 8 weeks ago that I met my 39 fellow Campbell University Physician Assistant classmates during orientation.  Some had traveled quite some distance to arrive in Buies Creek, North Carolina—from California, Colorado, and Minnesota (to name a few)—while some had come from closer by South Carolina, coastal North Carolina, Charlotte, or other parts of the state.

I’ll admit that I was a little bit nervous when I arrived for orientation (though mostly excited); I knew that the program was going to be very intense, and the proposition of being surrounded by an entirely new group of people for the ensuing 28 months was hard to wrap my head around.  My nerves were quickly calmed, though.  Within a day or two, it was clear to me that the people who were part of the program—students, faculty, and staff alike—were not only here for the right reasons, but were also going to make PA school a great experience.   As I started learning about the other students in my class, I was amazed by the breadth of their experiences and knowledge.

The ages of the students in our class span more than two decades, and we have completed degrees at schools all over the country (mostly undergraduate degrees, and a few Master’s as well).  We have two students who served in the military for many years, a former pharmaceutical rep, athletic trainers, a chemist, and people who have worked in just about every clinical and hospital setting you can imagine.  Day-in and day-out, I am in awe of my classmates.  I especially appreciate the knowledge they bring when we discuss subjects in which my background is weak; I can usually find someone who is able to explain a clinical condition to me because they’ve seen it!

Although it sounds cheesy, our class really does feel like a family.  Each morning, we start the day together 9am, and as the day and week goes on, we share our ups and downs.  We share the little things, good and bad: exhaustion at the end of an especially long day (or big test), and appreciation for a fellow student who posts a helpful video link, uploads a study guide online, or even just fills our water bottle for us during break. But the best thing we get to share is those times when we’re reminded what a wonderful profession we are entering.  And those times happen often enough to make us look past tomorrow’s big test and be thankful that we’re part of the Campbell University PA program.

I’ve included a few photos from our White Coat Ceremony… check them out! More photos will be coming soon (from PA Week activities, community service events, and intramural football).

Waiting to receive their coats: Stephen, Grace, and Merri

Waiting for white coats: Jesse, Abby, Mary Carol, and Andrew Z.

Waiting to get coated: Mari, Pat, and Sarah (Tom in the background)

Rahul, Meagan, and Carrie await their coats

Kat McDougal signs the honor pledge as part of the White Coat Ceremony

Program Director Mr. Colletti helpsTayyabah Rayyast put on her white coat

Happy to have our white coats!

Deanna and Kat: excited to have their new white coats!

We will also soon begin featuring a few members of the class each month on the blog so that those of you interested in the program can get a better idea of our class make up… it’s pretty awesome  :-)

And, lastly, ABC 11 (a local news station) did a nice segment on the CU program, featuring several of our first year students as well as Mr. Colletti, our Program Director, and Dr. Stewart, our Medical Director.  Check out the video here:  http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/video?id=8835648

Enjoy the remainder of PA week!

Molly Stapleton Calabria, PAS-1
MPAP Candidate, Class of 2014

PA’s Prescribe-A-Wish

On July 14, 2012, we hosted the first annual “PA’s Prescribe-A-Wish” Charity Golf Tournament to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Eastern North Carolina. The tournament followed a captain’s choice format and began with a shotgun start at 10am at Keith Hills Country Club in Buies Creek. Players competed in teams of four for the first place finish. There were also several individual competitions, including longest drive and closest to the pin.

We began the day with an opening ceremony and prayer by Dr. John Roberson, VP of Enrollment Management and Assistant to the President. As a class it was a pleasure to be able to honor Ms. Amber McNeill, a Campbell University (CU) alumnus and former Make-A-Wish recipient. Amber graduated from CU in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in education. More importantly, she just celebrated ten years remission from Ewing’s sarcoma!
A generous breakfast was donated by McDonald’s of Lillington and a delicious lunch was provided by Sheetz of Smithfield. Mrs. Dee Schmid, mother of golf tournament coordinator and fellow PA student Kaitlyn Schmid, donated tons of water to ensure our golfers stayed hydrated. Coca-Cola Company donated a substantial amount of sodas for our golfers, as well. We were thrilled and overwhelmed by the generous support we received from the community.

The “PA’s Prescribe-A-Wish” tournament closed with an exciting awards ceremony. The winning team, finishing 18 under par, consisted of: Richard Lowry, Stuart Wattlington, Charles Watson and Carlton Floyd, all of whom are intimately connected to Campbell University. Carlton Floyd, a CU undergraduate alumni and current Doctor of Pharmacy student, was awarded the “longest drive.” Eugene Foushee, husband of CU Pharmacy adjunct faculty member Dr. Leigh Foushee, received the award for “closest to the pin.”

Our first annual “PA’s Prescribe-A-Wish” Charity Golf Tournament was a huge success thanks to the amazing community support and the flawless planning of our fellow classmate, Kaitlyn Schmid. We are thrilled to announce that we were able to raise $5000 for the Make-A-Wish foundation of Eastern North Carolina. Thank you to all of our sponsors and golfers for helping us continue to support our community!

Brittany Lowry, PA-S
MPAP Candidate, Class of 2013

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

First do no harm…to each other

Three weeks!  We only have 3 weeks left in our didactic year!  It is unbelievable how quickly this year has passed.  Soon, we will be heading out to our various clinical rotation sites.  We all are thrilled to practice everything that we have learned!

Campbell University has provided us with TONS of hands-on experience to ensure that we are adequately prepared for our rotations and our future careers.  Our OSCEs (objective structured clinical examinations), which consist of simulated scenarios with standardized patients have provided us a wonderful tool for pulling all of our information together in a clinical setting.  We have had hands-on labs connected to several of our classes where we have learned to suture, draw blood, start IVs, place NG tubes, cast and splint as well as several other essential skills that will give us a huge advantage as we begin our clinical year.  During these labs, we have learned all these skills on each other; needless to say, you get to know each other very well!  I told my own lab partner, Melissa, she will always be my favorite patient!

Throughout the year, we have spent several days at the WakeMed Simulation Lab in Raleigh.  These days proved to be some of the most exciting and wonderful learning experiences that we had during our didactic year.  We are so grateful to the surgeons, doctors, nurses and staff at WakeMed for contributing to our education.  We will undoubtedly be better providers because of the time you took to engage in our education!

I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as we enjoyed learning all these skills with each other!  The class of 2013 is ready to take on our clinical rotations, ready to continue our wonderful educational experience, ready to make a difference in our community!

-Brittany Lowry, PA-S, MPAP Candidate, Class of 2013

“If we love, we will serve…”


In early June, I had the opportunity to volunteer alongside some of my fellow classmates as a timer at the Triangle Aquatic Center for the 2012 Special Olympics.  What a wonderful experience!

I sincerely enjoyed interacting with all of the athletes in my lane, but the most engaging experience occurred when one of my athletes came in first in his heat.  I was so proud of him; clearly, all of his dedication and training had paid off.  As soon as he jumped out of the pool, he was so excited that he wrapped those soaking wet arms around me and gave me the biggest, sopping wet hug I have ever received.  He said, “I did it!  First place!”  The joy in my heart was overwhelming as I thought about how much this gold medal would mean to him and to his family.  Individuals with specials needs sometimes have limited opportunities to “come in first” in life, but that day was different for him, today he was first; he won the gold medal and that is something no one will ever be able to take away from him.

I felt like I was a part of an integral group of people helping another person succeed, helping another person achieve a goal.  There were no walls and no barriers – it felt as if I had known these athletes and their families forever because we all wanted the same thing; we all wanted the athletes to swim like they never had before and to be proud of their accomplishments when they finished.  It was an honor and privilege to be a part of such a great team – a united team.  The positive energy was so contagious.  I wish that passion and enthusiasm could be translated into every environment.

When my classmate Victoria first asked if I would volunteer with her at the Special Olympics, I was hesitant to commit because I have not had a lot of experiences with special needs individuals; in my ignorance, I feared that I would be uncomfortable the whole day.  I was genuinely surprised how quickly my fears were alleviated when I began to focus on the individuals instead of the disease.  We are all, literally, one chromosome away from Downs’ Syndrome; that is all I kept thinking.  There is nothing that makes these athletes any different than me – they feel, they hurt, they commit, and they train – just like I do.  I was thrilled to be surrounded by such wonderful people, both athletes and coaches.  It was truly an inspirational day – a day that I feared turned into a day that I loved!

I have always felt very strongly about serving others.  Mother Teresa once said, “If we pray, we will believe; if we believe, we will love; if we love, we will serve.”  Approaching everyday life with this mindset, especially clinical practice, will make me become a better provider.  Loving others and seeing them as individuals, just like yourself, makes you want to serve them.  I was also inspired by the passion each of these athletes possessed.  Sometimes when situations in life become a challenge, it is easy for me to lose my enthusiasm, but each and every one of these athletes was full of passion, dedication and commitment – even though some of them had been swimming in several events that day, they swam each event as if it were their first.  That passion-filled stamina is something I hope to take into clinical practice with me – some days I may see twenty or thirty patients, yet I want to approach each individual as if they were my first patient of the day; I want to approach them with passion and enthusiasm; I want to inspire my patients to become passionate about their own health and in turn, inspire other people.  I am honored to have been a part of the Special Olympics and look forward to volunteering with them again in the future.

Here are a few pictures as well as the link to the ABC News coverage!

Athletes Compete in Special Olympics Summer Games

-Brittany Lowry, PA-S, MPAP Candidate, Class of 2013



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.