Patricia R. Jennings, DrPH, PA-C, recently appointed program director at the Surgical Physician Assistant (PA) Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), received the 2010 Master Faculty Award from the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) at its recent Annual Education Forum in Baltimore, Maryland. The Master Faculty Award recognizes educators who inspire, stimulate, and challenge their students and colleagues and who have made outstanding contributions to PA education and the profession in at least three of these areas: teaching, scholarship, administration, and professional service.
Jennings, a tenured professor in the Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences in the UAB PA Program, is a nationally recognized authority on infectious disease. For the past four years, her role as either project director or investigator for the Alabama/North Carolina STD Prevention and Training Center - part of the CDC National Network of STD Prevention and Training Centers - has been to educate practition-ers and public health directors in seven states about the latest treatment and prevention guidelines. Instructor and director of admissions at Wake Forest University, M. Jane McDaniel, who nominated Jennings for this award, called her commitment and dedication to PA education "truly exemplary."
Because of her involvement with the CDC, Jennings is regularly invited to lecture on dermatology and sexually transmitted diseases to first-year students in other PA programs. She also precepts students from programs across the country for their infectious disease rotations at the Birmingham Veterans Administration HIV/AIDS clinic, where she practices clinically.
Jennings's outstanding teaching and mentoring skills have earned her numerous accolades. She has received nine national awards over the past 12 years, including:
- The 2010 Volker Award from the University of Alabama School of Health Professions for leadership within her own institution
- "Distinguished Alumni 2008" and the "Hall of Fame" awards, both from the Duke University PA Program in 2008
Jennings's list of publications in the area of infectious disease is equally impressive, with 45 articles published in peer-reviewed journals since
1996. An editorial board member of the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants from 2000-2007, Jennings has reviewed for that publication since 2000 and for Advance for PAs since 1999. She has been a PAEA Research Institute subcommittee member and grant reviewer since 2005.
In accepting the award, Jennings told the audience that she has the best job in the world and urged everyone to continue to "pay it forward."
Physician assistants (PAs) are licensed health care professionals who practice medicine as members of a team with their supervising physicians. PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services to diverse populations in rural and urban settings. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and prescribe medications.
Established in 1972, PAEA is the only national organization in the United States representing PA educational programs. Its mission is to pursue excellence, foster faculty development, advance the body of knowledge that defines quality education and patient-centered care, and promote diversity in all aspects of PA education.