Des Moines University’s PA Program: In-house Interprofessional Education

Ricardo Bodra (top right), PA Class of 2021, participates in an interprofessional simulation event at DMU in January 2020.

Unique Characteristics of Des Moines University’s PA Program

Upon its inception in 1981, the Des Moines University (DMU) Physician Assistant program was the first PA program established at an osteopathic institution. Today, our 123-year-old entirely graduate health sciences university houses eight programs: Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, Master of Public Health, Master of Healthcare Administration, Master of Science in Anatomy, Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences, and a developing Doctor of Occupational Therapy. This uniqueness creates a plethora of in-house interprofessional educational opportunities and allows for collaboration with nearby institutions.

Our Program’s Impact

In addition to the numerous internal opportunities, our program is a member of the Des Moines Area Interprofessional Education Consortium, which includes other programs such as nursing, pharmacy, athletic training, dental hygiene, and occupational therapy. The DMU PA program requires several IPE activities such as case experiences in neurology (concussion), nutrition, and pharmacology. Furthermore, the program offers elective coursework and co-curricular and consortium events including an IPE day with nearly 1,000 local health professional students in attendance. PA students are given numerous opportunities to work with other professions simulating the real-world experiences of everyday healthcare. For more information, see DMU’s IPE website.

Our Surrounding Community

As expressed by an Iowa slogan, “Fields of Opportunities,” DMU students are able to engage in community outreach events such as the IMT Des Moines Marathon, school physicals, Girls Exploring Medicine and Science (GEMS), Boys Reach for Opportunities in Science (BROS), Connecting Older Adults to Students (COATS), and the Iowa State Fair, where students can sneak a peek at the famous butter cow sculpture while performing health screenings and educating fairgoers.

Fun Fact About Des Moines

Des Moines, centrally located, is Iowa’s capital city. Uniquely, Iowa is bounded by the Missouri River on the west and the Mississippi River on the east. Between these borders, one will find rolling hills, grasslands boasting the state flower, the wild rose, and an abundance of cornfields, which is why Iowa is the nation’s largest producer of corn. Each year, thousands of cyclists enjoy these scenic views on the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, a weeklong bike ride across the state.

Heather Opseth, MPAS, PA-C, DMU PA Program Assistant Director, DMAIPEC representative contributed to this article.

This article is part of PAEA’s Program Showcases, which also includes webinars. Learn more about the series here.