Duke Physician Assistant Program volunteers clock 335 service hours in Durham community

Monday, October 6, 2014
PA Students at Community Service Day

Duke Physician Assistant Program students, faculty, staff and alumni participated in a Day of Service Oct. 4 in the Durham community.

One hundred and twenty-five Duke PA Program volunteers – 97 first- and second-year students, 16 faculty and staff members and 12 alums – spent time on Saturday with Habitat for Humanity of Durham, Keep Durham Beautiful, Food Bank of Central and Eastern N.C., Diaper Bank of N.C., Urban Ministries of Durham and Ronald McDonald House of Durham. The volunteers clocked 335 service hours.

The Day of Service was planned in part to mark National PA Week Oct. 6-12, and to kick off an upcoming year of celebration for the Duke Physician Assistant Program’s 50th anniversary.

“PAs are known for their heart for service,” said Karen Hills, Duke Physician Assistant Program director and volunteer at the Diaper Bank of N.C. on Saturday. “Our students embrace a variety of community service projects each year and this was a way to focus attention on the many needs our community has.”

Service projects were chosen with local organizations based on previous relationships the Duke PA Program had established, or faculty and staff members recommending an organization that was meaningful in the Durham community. Class of 2015 students Trey Levers, Stead Society president; Todd McVeigh, outreach chair; and Anna Zelov, treasurer, were instrumental in organizing and planning the event, along with PA program coordinator Jennifer Pennington.

“The PA profession was born out of matching resources to needs… ,” said Levers. “The PA Day of Service maintains that same spirit by connecting compassionate volunteers from the Duke PA Program family with some amazing community partners.”

Projects by the numbers

  • The PA Program held a diaper drive leading up to the Oct. 4 event, collecting more than 1,000 diapers for the Diaper Bank of N.C. Volunteers packed 7,000 diapers on Saturday.
  • Volunteers packed 162 bagged lunches at the Duke Physician Assistant Building Saturday then delivered them to Urban Ministries.
  • A food drive was held leading up to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern N.C. service project, bringing in 121 lbs. of food, which equals 102 meals. On Saturday, the group prepared 25,200 lbs. of food, which equals 21,211 meals for families.
  • The Keep Durham Beautiful group collected 30 bags of trash, along with some tires and other large items, at Elmira Park.
  • Groups worked on two existing Habitat for Humanity structures.
  • Volunteers purchased, prepared and served evening meals to 75 people at Ronald McDonald House.
  • The Stead Society for Class of 2015 donated about $1,000 to fund the Ronald McDonald House and Urban Ministries projects.

50th anniversary celebration

The Duke Physician Assistant Program will celebrate the program – and the profession’s – 50thanniversary in 2015, culminating in a gala event on Oct. 3, 2015. The physician assistant profession was founded at Duke University in 1965 by Dr. Eugene A. Stead Jr., then-chair of the Department of Medicine at Duke. National PA Week is celebrated Oct. 6-12 to commemorate the anniversary of the first graduating physician assistant class at Duke on Oct. 6, 1967, also the birthday of founder Stead.

“Every day at the Duke PA Program is being a part of history as well as looking ahead to the future,” said Hills. “I never underestimate the importance of the historical significance of being the first program in the country and the tremendous responsibility this carries as other look to us to lead.”