USD PA class promotes health literacy

USD PA class promotes health literacy
The Physician Assistant (PA) Class of 2008 participated in a Health Literacy project promoted by the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), Feb. 23 at Austin Elementary School in Vermillion. The PA class educated kindergarten and first-grade students about nutrition, healthy behaviors and the role of the PA in the delivery of healthcare, including the differences and similarities to physician roles.

Louise Papka, the university's PA academic coordinator, felt that the project was very important.

"As an AAPA member and PA educator, I look to incorporate projects that are of benefit to the community and PA students," she said.

PA student Joleen Reule, student co-organizer of the "Teddy Bear Clinic," said, "As we are in the classroom all the time, it is so important to get out into the community, inform others about our profession and have some fun doing it."

Anne Manning, a teacher at Austin Elementary, was impressed by the presentation.

"It was interesting and kept their attention. The information was relevant, and I think it will help them feel more comfortable when having a medical examination," said Manning.

The AAPA is promoting the Health Literacy projects nationally through December 2008. Given the success of the project at Austin Elementary, Papka foresees future projects for PA classes. "The next target population may involve the elderly in our community, or possibly addressing language barriers to health literacy," said Papka.

USD's PA faculty and students thank the South Dakota Academy of Physician Assistants and AAPA for their grand allocation, as well as Principal Mark Upward and the students and faculty of Austin Elementary.

Information about the university's PA program can be found at

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