PA Program Professor Wins Prestigious Award


Lori E. Swanchak, Ph.D., PA-C, interim program director of the physician assistant program, has received national recognition for her work and writing in the field of physician assistant education. She has been awarded the Physician Assistant Education Association's (PAEA) Article of the Year Award for her well-researched study of "The Effect of Early Geriatric Exposure upon Career Development and Subspecialty Selection Among Physician Assistant Students," published in the Journal of Physician Assistant Education (JPAE). The award, which was presented at PAEA's recent Education Forum in Seattle, recognizes physician assistant (PA) educators who publish articles about the training and education of future generations of PAs. Criteria for the award include having an impact on the PA profession with implications for workforce and interdisciplinary training/education.

"The Effect of Early Geriatric Exposure upon Career Development and Subspecialty Selection Among Physician Assistant Students" focuses on the need for geriatric care as the population of elderly patients grows. Dr. Swanchak's article reflects the current climate of PA education, highlighting the lack of practitioners in geriatric medical care and emphasizing the problems that may result.

According to her research, students at five Pennsylvania PA programs expressed little interest in both geriatric coursework and clinical exposure. She concludes that the current exposure to elderly patients may be inadequate to influence PA students, and that a multifaceted approach may result in an increase of PA students in geriatric medicine.

Dr. Swanchak explained her reaction after hearing that she had won the award.

"I was surprised yet thrilled to receive the call from the awards chairperson notifying me of the award," she explained. "It is a great honor to be recognized by your peers doing something you enjoy while also contributing to the profession and PA education."

Two graduate students, Kathy Terry and Joyce George (2012), assisted with the research and analysis.