The September edition of the American Academy of Physician Assistants Student Academy newsletter featured a first-hand story about the volunteer efforts of some UAB Physician Assistant students. The article, written by second year PA student Amy McCormick, highlights the work done and the lessons learned. Our thanks to Amy for letting us reproduce her article for the SHP website. Here is their story:

McCormick SAAAPA 03Photo Courtesy: Amy McCormickThis summer, the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Physician Assistant Class of 2014 shifted their focus outside the classroom and into the community by donating time to the Jimmie Hale Mission’s Shepura Men’s Center in Birmingham, AL. The class served six meals to homeless men living at the mission, many recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

(Pictured L/R: Erin Hartsfield, Amy McCormick, Elizabeth Hazlehurst, William Davis, Heather Hallman, Faith Mason, Emma Twiner)

The mission is located downtown, just a few blocks from the bustling campuses of UAB and its affiliated hospital. The facility consists of a 160-bed men’s shelter, dining hall, clothing distribution, chapel services, a recovery program, and a learning center for education remediation and career readiness. On average, the dining hall serves over 12,000 meals per month.

But to these men, we served more than a meal. The amount of appreciation shown, for what we considered to be a small amount of work, was surprising. However, it was not the simple act of putting food on a plate, but our smiles and fellowship that reminded the mission residents that people in their community care about them.

And as for the class of 2014, we are reminded that medicine is about more than just textbooks and surgery. We saw firsthand the impact of slowing down for just a moment to connect with people through a small gesture and a smile.