Presbyterian College’s Physician Assistant program held its third commencement ceremony September 23 in Belk Auditorium.
Friends, family, and faculty witnessed 35 students graduate and begin their medical careers.
Program director Amanda Stevenson-Cali called the Class of 2023 a distinguished group of new professionals. Sixteen class members carried at least a 3.7 grade point average, while seven had GPAs above 3.9. Nearly half of the class scored in the advanced medical knowledge category on their end-of-curriculum exams – more than twice the national average class.
“You exceeded the national mean in nearly every area of medicine,” Stevenson-Cali said. “Your preceptors have gushed about your professionalism, bedside manner, and collaborative spirit.”
Most graduates already have secured jobs, and many are considering multiple job offers. According to Stevenson-Cali, the new PAs are taking positions all over the country – including Hawaii, South Dakota, and California. One graduate, she said, is taking a job in the National Health Service Corps, while another earned an emergency medicine fellowship.
Stevenson-Cali said graduates have much to be proud of but must always remember that medical practice requires a lifetime of learning.
“You’ve only just begun,” she said. “You will never be able to know everything. If you’re not sure – and there will be a lot of uncertainty, especially early on – look it up. Ask for help, or both.
“If something isn’t following the pattern you expected, reconsider. If your gut is telling you something isn’t right, listen, and don’t discount the expertise of nurses, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, and other health care professionals. You became a PA to work on a team.”
In her address to the Class of ’23, PC president Dr. Anita Gustafson told graduates they had already demonstrated the clinical skills and knowledge necessary to succeed. She said the intrinsic values inherent in a PC education set them apart from all other PAs.
“I believe you have also gained other skills and strengths during your time at PC – skills that are just as important as diagnostic skills and knowing what medications to prescribe,” Gustafson said. “These other skills include compassion, care, and a dedication to service. These are the skills that will set you apart as graduates of Presbyterian College and why they are so vitally important in patient care.
“You have the privilege to make a difference in the lives of your patients. I am confident that, after hours and hours and hours of study and clinical rotations and having the benefit from the support of your professors, mentors, and families, that you will embrace this privilege to serve others with strong commitment and dedication to the health care profession.”
PC Provost Dr. Kerry Pannell echoed the president’s call to service by reminding the Class of 2023 of the college’s motto, “While We Live, We Serve.”
“This idea and strong commitment to service informs everything we do as a student-centered institution,” Pannell said. “Our faith in Presbyterian values means that we believe in promoting justice and dignity of all persons and are guided by the grace of God.
“I’m impressed by your commitment to serve humanity to tend to the sick and needy. Caring for patients is the highest form of service.”
Please click here to read the list of award recipients and the names of the class of 2023 graduates.