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Students/Faculty News Kevin Storr December 18, 2018

Asia Sullivan, PA-S, is the first graduate of UAB’s M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies and M.S. Public Health dual degree program. The Castleberry, Alabama, native will participate in the School of Health Professions Graduate Professional Programs Hooding Ceremony and the UAB Graduate Commencement Ceremony on Friday, December 14, 2018.

Sullivan, who has earned 15 scholarships and awards during her undergraduate and graduate time at UAB, believes healthcare providers have a moral obligation to counsel their patients and to develop treatment plans to help avoid illnesses and chronic disease. And that is why she chose the MSPAS-MPH dual degree program.

“While PAs are trained to respond after disease or illness has already occurred, public health workers are trained to prevent that disease in the first place,” says Sullivan, who won the UAB Outstanding Undergraduate Student Leadership and Service Award in 2013 and the Outstanding 1st Year Physician Assistant Studies Student Award in 2017. “With drastic changes to insurance coverage and skyrocketing costs of medical procedures and office visits, people can no longer afford to become sick. I wholeheartedly believe that the marriage of public health practice and clinical work is the key to combating these problems.”

In collaboration with the Firehouse Shelter, Sullivan’s research project analyzed existing data to create updated statistics on the success of the School of Health Professions’ Firehouse Shelter Clinic. Her work, titled “Firehouse Shelter Screening Clinic: Community Resource Mapping & Data Analysis”, also provided detailed mapping of existing health resources in the community. In addition, she created a new policy and protocol for record keeping for the future students and clients of the Firehouse Shelter Clinic.

First Full Cohort Earns MPH

Peter Hjorth PAPeter Hjorth, PA-SThe first full MSPAS-MPH cohort, consisting of five UAB students, earns their MPH degree on Friday and begin their physician assistant clinical year in January. That class includes:

Roni Alcantara, PA-S

Sloan Bancroft, PA-S

Peter Hjorth, PA-S, Franklin, Tennessee

“I chose this dual degree program because I wanted to be able to practice clinically and be aware of issues in global health and know how to bridge the gap that exists between them.”

Hjorth completed his MPH internship at the School of Health Professions’ Firehouse Shelter Clinic. For his project, he created a simplified screening tool for mental illness. The title of his research was “Serious Mental Illness Screening in Homeless Men.”

Mary King, PA-S, Biloxi, Mississippi

“In the future, I would not only like to explore the reasons why patients do not take their medications correctly, but also find how we can proactively increase patient adherence. I believe this dual-degree program will help me with exploring these avenues in healthcare.”

King, who was awarded a Primary Care MSPAS-MPH Dual Degree Scholarship upon acceptance to the program, spent time researching and working in three different areas of health care.

  1. She worked with the UAB Sports Nutrition Team, Department of Athletics and Department of Nutrition Sciences as a Health and Wellness Specialist Intern. She utilized evidence-based research to provide the most recent and NCAA-compliant nutrition care to student athletes and helped draft the UAB Athletics Eating Disorder Policy and the UAB Athletics Diabetes Policy. 
  2. Along with a group of PA students and MSPAS/MPH classmates, she conducted a community health assessment on Birmingham area homeless women and children at the First Light shelter.
  3. She partnered with two PA students, Melissa Do and Kara Arnold, on conducting a systemic research review of whether there is an association between oral contraception use and opportunistic infection of the female reproductive tract. 

Click here to read more about Mary and her work.

Gracie McGuire, PA-S

McGuire recently earned the Master of Public Health Student of the Year award.

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