PAEA 50th Anniversary: Fast Facts About the Union College PA Program

Fast Facts About the Union College PA Program

Courtesy of Megan Heidtbrink, PA-C, Union College PA Program Director

Program Name & Location: Union College PA Program Lincoln, NE

Program mission, vision & values: 

  • Vision: Prepare excellent PAs who transform lives through quality healthcare and Christian service.
  • Mission: Matriculate high quality students from diverse backgrounds to become successful PAs by equipping them with the competency to provide excellent patient care through application of teamwork, demonstration of academic excellence, practice of clinical acumen, display of professionalism, and evidence of servanthood within a Christian program.

What year did your program welcome its first class of students? 1998

What are the key milestones in your program’s history? 

Some key milestones in our program’s history include gaining full accreditation in 1997, switching from a bachelor’s to a master’s program, and graduating the first class of master’s-level PAs in 2007. In 2013, our program moved into newly renovated facilities, transitioning to a specified space for the PA Program.

How many students have graduated from your program to date? 559

How have your faculty or students advocated for the PA profession? 

Michael Huckabee, Union College’s founding PA Program Director, was involved in promoting the Union College PA Program and profession through local and national involvement (NAPA, PAEA). Our founding and current Medical Director, Dwain Leonhardt, has sat on the NCCPA test-writing committee. Past and present students are involved in the state academy (NAPA) and have national representation at AAPA. Previous Program Director, Jodi Chewakin, sat on the NAPA BOD and was a member of the PAEA awards committee.

How has your program impacted the community it serves?

  • As a part of our curriculum, students engage in inter-professional collaboration early on by partnering with Union College’s nursing program to volunteer at the Matt Talbot Foot Clinic, where they wash the feet of the homeless population in Lincoln, NE, and provide them with two pairs of socks and shoes.
  • Students can also volunteer at Clinic with a Heart, a clinic that serves people who are uninsured and underserved. Many of our faculty members also volunteer their time at this clinic.
  • Many of our graduates, who are highly sought after by employers, stay in the area to work upon completion of the program.
  • PA students participate in Union College’s annual day of service, Project Impact.
  • Members of the John Kerbs Society, the Union College PA student society, regularly volunteer to provide meals to the underserved at Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach. They also plan and organize a 5k race each year called the Dash for Compassion. Proceeds from this event are donated to a local organization or community member in need.