Student Awards

 Hey Students,
Wouldn’t it be nice …

  • To have $2000 to apply towards your educational expenses?
  • To be recognized for your student accomplishments?
  • To set a shining example for your peers?

If the answer to any of these questions is “YES!!”, then I encourage you to apply for the Nathaniel Alston Student Achievement Award. Each year the PSPA honors Physician Assistant student winners at their Annual Conference, which this October 2019 will be held at the Lancaster Marriott in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Oh… and did I mention that the three winners of the essay contest will be presented with a $2000 honorarium. 

Applying is easy. See details in the information that follows this notice.

Good luck to all who apply!

Sincerely yours,

Helen O. Hiserman, MHP, PA-C
Awards Chair

“Everything is out there waiting for you. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.”

Pierre-Jules Renard, French author

To All Physician Assistant Students:

The PSPA is pleased to announce the Nathaniel Alston Student Achievement Scholarship Award. This award has been established by the PSPA to recognize students who have demonstrated the highest standards of the PA profession through their experience and knowledge by promoting goodwill, public recognition and professional development of the PA profession. An award of $2000 will be presented to three PA students. These awards will be selected on a competitive basis. Each student applicant will be competing against other student applicants from their respective PA Programs in Pennsylvania. The applicants’ essays will be judged by the members of the PSPA Awards Committee. More than one student from each program may be among the winners. The awards will be presented during the Student Challenge Bowl at the Annual PSPA Fall CME Conference. Selected students are expected to attend the banquet and receive their award in person.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • At the time of nomination and at the time of the award presentation, the student must be a member of the PSPA and in good standing at an accredited Pennsylvania PA program
  • A maximum 750 word essay typed and double spaced in Microsoft Word format.
  • For all essays, client/patient encounters should be identified by initials only in an effort to protect patients’ confidentiality. Quotes and excerpts from written documents can be used, but must be credited appropriately.
  • The student must be a graduate PA student or in your professional phase of your PA program.

Choose one topic from the three choices below.

  1. What role does community service in medicine play in promoting the PA profession? If noting a personal experience, it needs to be during your PA training.
  2. Provide an experience during your PA training, perhaps a patient you interacted with, a project you were involved in, or an educational experience and how this will affect how you will practice in the PA profession.
  3. Provide a patient encounter that occurred during your PA training which presented a moral/ethical dilemma in medical practice and how you would approach the issue/issues.

Quotes and excerpts from written documents can be used, but must be credited appropriately.

Applying is easy. E-mail in your essay to . Make sure to include your name, address, email, PSPA number, PA program and anticipated date of graduation in the body of the e-mail.

Applications for the Nathaniel Alston Student Achievement Award are accepted NOW through June 30, 2019.

Any questions should be directed to Helen O. Hiserman, MHP, PA-C, Awards Chair at

Thomas J. Lemley Award for Health Disparity Competition

Health Disparities and Cultural Competence

Jane R. Arenas, MS, PA-C

The inception of the PA profession was a response to the shortage of health care providers in the US. The fight continues as multiple factors such as poverty, environmental threats, lack of access to health care, and educational inequities continue to result in health disparities. Health care providers should strive to acknowledge the importance of culture and the dynamics that impact access to health care. Disparities are preventable inequities. Barriers to access include lack of adequate insurance, patient perception of needs, and resources that facilitate access to healthcare.

As healthcare costs continue to increase and outpace our economic growth, one approach to meet the needs of patients is to improve the efficiency of the healthcare delivery system. Preventative care is one example of how the system can become more effective. The better the preventative care offered, the less cost the patients could incur for consequent care. Not only would the need for future visits to primary care providers be decreased, hospitalization costs could be minimized, and most importantly life-threatening disorders could be prevented.

 While we look for opportunities to play a role in developing a more efficient healthcare delivery system, we should look for ways to help foster patient dignity. Regardless of which stance one takes on the debate of whether or not healthcare is a “right”, here are statistics we need to consider:
  • The US is estimated to have the highest rate in prostate and breast cancer survival rates
  • The US is possibly the only developed nation that does not guarantee health coverage for its citizens
The aforementioned issues are just two examples of the need to improve the US healthcare delivery system. To honor the mission of those who were instrumental in the birth of our profession, we should look for ways to improve patient access to healthcare. Culturally competent PAs should look for ways to heighten awareness of these disparities and integrate knowledge of cultural factors to patient education and instructions.
Please join the Health Disparities Committee and let us know about efforts to take to address healthcare disparities in your current practice. Contact Jane Arenas by email at if you would like to be contacted by the committee.
Click here for information and guidelines on the 2019 Thomas J. Lemley Award for Health Disparities Competition.

Thomas J. Lemley Award for Health Disparities

Competition Topics to date (10-20-2016)
2004- Diversity in Medicine
2005- Multicultural Diversity
2006- Disability and Diversity
2007- Health Literacy
2008- Preventative Care
2009- Public Health Issues
2010- Public Health
2011- Diversity from the Patient Perspective
2012- Cultural Competence: Fostering Dignity and Respect
2013- Patient Education: Decreasing Disparities and Increasing Compliance
2014 – Religious Beliefs and Its Impact on Treatment
2015- Community Service
2016- Local Community Service

Tally of individual student award recipients to date (10-20-2016)
Chatham – 5
DeSales – 3
Drexel – 2
Duquesne – 7
Jefferson – 1
Lock Haven – 2
Penn College – 2
Salus – 3
Seton Hill – 5

Competition Winners to Date
First Place – Helene Muller, Chatham College
Second Place – Emily Belzer, Chatham College
Third Place – Shalee Johnson, Chatham College

First Place – Helene Rovnan, Chatham College
Second Place – Kati Guntli, Duquesne University
Third Place – Bethany Crouch, Duquesne University
Honorable Mention – Allison Moore, Gannon University

First Place – Marilyn Caldwell, Penn College of Technology
Second Place – Maria Manzo, Chatham College
Third Place – Tracey Seylar, Penn College of Technology
Doctorate Student – Kimberly Cavanagh

First Place – Lauren Werdman, Duquesne University
Second Place – Christie Dudash, Duquesne University
Third Place – Aida Gallagher, Drexel University

First Place – Jennifer Wagner, Salus University
Second Place – Joseph Lamb, Salus University
Third Place (tie) – Amanda Hansen, Seton Hill University
Third Place (tie) – Jessica Mantella, Duquesne University
Community Service – Salus University

First Place – Stacey Steer Mercer, Duquesne University
Second Place – Kathryn Ann Burns, DeSales University

First Place – Kristin Juhasz, Seton Hill University
Second Place – Bradley Haveman-Gould, Drexel University

First Place – Whitney Strong, Seton Hill University
Second Place – Heather Prah, Duquesne University

First Place – Eric Paulson, DeSales University

First Place – Christy Lejkowski, Lock Haven University
Second Place – Kellen Homer, Seton Hill University

First Place – Heather Bratton, Lock Haven University
Second Place – Tyler Zulli, DeSales University

First Place – Jaclyn Beck, King’s College
Second Place – Lauren Rice, DeSales University

First Place – Hallie Gilbert, Seton Hill University
Second Place – Christie Lee DiSilvestro, Thomas Jefferson University
Fellow Division – Helen Hiserman

First Place – Christy Lee DiSilvestro, Thomas Jefferson University
Second Place – Lauren Barton, Drexel University

First Place – Eliana Katz, DeSales University
Second Place – Kayla Miller, Lock Haven University