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SIU Physician Assistant Program Names “Preceptors of the Year”

August 2, 2016

Program’s upcoming ceremony honors students

The Physician Assistant Program Class of 2016 at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Carbondale has selected nine central and southern Illinois physicians and Physician Assistants to receive the “Preceptor of the Year” award.

“Preceptors are the heart of a medical education program,” said Rhonda Pulver, clinical assistant professor and clinical coordinator of the Physician Assistant Program at the School of Medicine. “They’re not paid; they volunteer their time to be a mentor. We rely on each preceptor to educate the students in the journey to becoming an efficient health care provider.” Nearly 600 preceptors assist the SIU Physician Assistant Program.

The following mentors have received the Preceptors of the Year awards:

• Lucas L. Catt, MD, of Prairie Family Practice at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System in Mattoon

• Audrey Hudson, PA-C, of the OB GYN department at Carle in Urbana

• Randy Jung, MD, from Behavioral Health at Touchette Regional Hospital in Centreville.

• Kent Arnold, MD, of the Emergency Department at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale and Southern Illinois Healthcare, also in Carbondale. Arnold was also named a Preceptor of the Year in 2014.

• Paul Sutherland, Jr., MD, FACS, of General Surgery at Richland Memorial Hospital in Olney. Sutherland was also named a Preceptor of the Year in 2015.

• Harsha V. Polavarapu, MD, FACS, of General Surgery at Blessing Health System in Quincy

• Janelle E. Olson, PA-C, of the Hospitalist Service at Decatur Memorial Hospital. Olson graduated from the SIU Physician Assistant Program in 2014.

• Cory Sharp, PA-C, of Illinois Centers for Pain & Rehab (ICPR) Family Practice in Pekin

• Kari M. Bellis, PA-C, of General Surgery at Springfield Clinic

The Preceptors of the Year are nominated and chosen by students and site coordinators. Criteria for

nomination and selection include:

• Active involvement in educating students and serving as a role model

• Experience and knowledge in area of expertise

• Timely and meaningful feedback to the learner and to the program

• Practicing with passion and enthusiasm

• Facilitating teamwork in the approach to patient care

• Fostering innovative learning experiences and opportunities for growth

• Exemplifying the standards of ethical and professional conduct, including respect, flexibility, academic integrity, honesty and trustworthiness, accountability and cultural competency.

Thirty-five students in the Class of 2016 will celebrate their completion of the program at 2 p.m. on August 6 at the SIU Student Center in Carbondale. During the white coat ceremony, the Class of 2016 students’ short coats are discarded. The short white coat is a tradition for students, reminding them that they are still learning. Long coats are given as a symbol of being equal to practicing clinicians.

Graduating physician assistant students present short white coats to the 40 members of the Class of 2018 who are beginning their clinical education. This serves as a reminder to them that as clinicians, they now have a responsibility to “pay it forward” as a mentor. For more information about the white coat and completion ceremony or the SIU School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program, contact Don Diemer, DHSc, PA-C, program director, at 618-453-8850.

The SIU School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program has been a pioneer in using problem-based learning, simulated patients, innovative evaluation techniques and clinical mentoring programs. The mission of the program is to prepare health care professionals to provide primary health care to underserved populations in rural and health professional shortage areas by preparing graduates who are interdependent medical providers, dedicated to both community and profession. The SIU program has a five-year average first time board pass rate of 99 percent. Since its inception, 410 students have completed the program.