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 Jacque Smith, Director of Public Relations

Sept. 7, 2004

Union's physician assistant program receives federal training grant

LINCOLN—This summer the Union College Physician Assistant Program was awarded a $663,000 grant by the Human Resources and Services Administration of the United States Federal Government. This is the third consecutive federal grant that the program has received, totaling nearly $1,300,000.
        This grant will be allocated over three years and will provide support for enhancements in the program’s curriculum that will strengthen students’ ability to meet critical primary health care needs of targeted underserved populations.
        “This new grant will help our students gain new skills to reach populations in Nebraska that right now are not receiving the care they deserve,” said Michael Huckabee, director of the physician assistant program.
        This federal grant is part of the “Walk the Talk Project,” which emphasizes the application of knowledge, skills and attitudes in the areas of cultural competency. After enhanced instruction in cultural sensitivity, including a medical Spanish language course, physician assistant students will participate in a wide variety of service-learning projects such as health promotion projects through the Lincoln Hispanic Community Center. Clinical rotations will place students in rural and Hispanic populations across the Midwest.
        Childhood obesity prevention is also emphasized in this grant project. Physician assistant students will be helping with a family-oriented childhood obesity prevention program sponsored by the Lincoln Pediatric Group, led by Douglas Ebers, MD.
        This most recent grant also helps continue the ongoing service initiatives of Union’s physician assistant program. Along with Union’s nursing students, the future physician assistants will continue their partnership with local shelters to provide hygiene and foot care to Lincoln’s homeless population. For the last seven years, all physician assistant students have been helping teach responsible sexual health care in the Lincoln public schools. This new grant continues to support these activities.
        The Union College Physician Assistant Program recently converted its baccalaureate degree into a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS). Union proposed the MPAS to meet the growing national trend of graduate-level physician assistant studies.
        “One of our goals in the physician assistant program is clinical relevance,” Huckabee said. “For us to remain relevant in health care, we need to be sure our students represent the highest level of training. This degree takes us to that level.”
        Since its inception in 1999, the vision of Union’s physician assistant program has centered on service, especially to underserved communities, such as inner city and rural areas.