Sacred Heart University Magazine

Physician Assistant Student One of Only 14 in U.S. to Receive Student Health Policy Fellowship

Sarah Bailey, who is seeking a master’s degree in physician assistant studies (MPAs) at Sacred Heart University, is one of only a handful of students in the country participating in this year’s Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) Student Health Policy Fellowship.

Through her fellowship, Bailey will attend a three-day intensive workshop in Washington, D.C. this month. There, she will engage in advocacy on Capitol Hill, learning the skills necessary to advance health policy issues and promote the physician assistant (PA) profession as a vital part of the health care system.

Bailey has a background in politics, having worked for U.S. Sens. Mark Udall of Colorado as a member of his press team. “I used to think that working in politics was what I wanted to do” Bailey said. “But after years of that, my boyfriend asked me, ‘Are you happy?’ And I realized I wasn’t. I realized I wanted to help people more directly and decided to become a physician assistant. With my history of working on the Hill, I hope to eventually forge some relationships as a PA and open doors that are currently closed.”

Though Bailey is not from Connecticut, she feels right at home at SHU. “This is where I’m meant to be,” she said. She loves the close-knit community and small class sizes of the Physician Assistant Studies program, where professors know and care about their students. She never had that feeling of camaraderie in previous universities she attended, she said.

With a primary care and patient-centered focus, the MPAS program teaches students to provide compassionate, respectful, high-quality health care, and to develop the profession’s competencies. After completing the program and passing the PA National Certification Exam, graduates of SHU’s MPAS program are qualified to work in any of the 50 states as a certified PA (PA-C). They must then apply for and obtain licensure in the state where they wish to work.

Bailey’s fellowship also requires an advocacy project under the guidance of a faculty mentor, due next year. Bailey has some ideas for her project—perhaps organizing a lobbying day for students, or hosting a senator or member of Congress for the program to encourage PA-friendly legislation.

“PA’s provide high-quality health care at a lower cost and we need more national representation,” Bailey said.

Eric Nemec, one of Bailey’s professors, said he and his colleagues are “incredibly proud” of her. “The fusion of her political background, her health care expertise, and the skills taught during this fellowship will hopefully allow her to be a strong advocate for her patients and her profession. She is a real ‘Pioneer’ in our inaugural class and will be an excellent representative of the Department of PA Studies and the University.”

For more information on the PAEA Student Health Policy Fellowship, visit http://paeaonline.org/resources/health-policy-fellowship

For more information on SHU’s Master in Physician Assistant Studies Program, visit http://www.sacredheart.edu/academics/collegeofhealthprofessions/academicprograms/physicianassistant/