The Lake Erie College Physician Assistant Program has been selected as one of 10 pilot PA programs to receive a grant to implement improved education about substance use disorder. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) $476,000 to distribute over the next two years to these pilot programs.
Sean Kramer, Program Director for the LEC PA Program and Clinical Assistant Professor, will lead the LEC program forward while collaborating with faculty from the other pilot programs to develop a standardized curriculum about drug abuse. This curriculum will then be administered and evaluated before being expanded to include 10 more programs.
"Northeast Ohio has felt the opioid epidemic almost more than any region in the country. As an educator and clinician from our community, I felt it was imperative that we do more to address the crisis,” said Kramer. “With a more enhanced curriculum on substance abuse, our physician assistant students will graduate being able to provide better and more definitive care for patients and families."
According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio had the second-highest amount of overdoses and death rates in the United States in 2017. For students in the LEC PA Program, the opioid epidemic is a local and personal issue they want to address. Austin Minnick, a student and Class President for the class of 2021, has been personally affected.
"One of the most perplexing things I was asked after my brother passed away from an opioid overdose was 'Aren't you mad at him for his decision?’” Minnick said. “The question came from a medical professional and it made me truly realize the lack of public knowledge and understanding on what it means to have an addiction. No substance addict wants to be an addict."
Minnick shared the grant program will allow LEC's PA program to educate both medical professionals and the broader community, debunking the myths and implementing steps to beat this epidemic. The Lake Erie College PA Program was one of about 250 programs considered for this grant.
“LEC’s PA leadership has been working hard to create a program that not only provides an exemplary educational experience for our students but also teaches them the importance of caring about issues impacting the communities in which we serve,” Kramer adds. “Programs such as SAMHSA provides a platform for our students to get out into the community and really make a difference.”
In 2018 the program received a ten-year Accreditation-Continued status by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, which is the maximum amount granted. The class of 2019 had a 100% pass rate for the PANCE board exams, making this the fourth year straight that all graduates passed the PANCE on their first attempt. In addition, the LEC PA Program has been 2017 runner up and 2016 champion of the Ohio Regional Cleveland Clinic Challenge Bowl.
The PAEA provides services to faculty, students, applicants and other stakeholders at PA educational programs who are members of the association. Currently all accredited programs in the U.S. are members. The SAMHSA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Their mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.
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