Physician Assistant student selected for prestigious health policy fellowship

Physician Assistant student Brendan Lucas '19 was selected for a prestigious Student Health Policy Fellowship by the Physician Assistant Education Association.

Physician Assistant student selected for prestigious health policy fellowship

Third-year physician assistant (PA) student Brendan Lucas '19 is one of only 14 students from across the country selected by the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) to participate in its Student Health Policy Fellowship program. 

The fellowship is designed to enhance students' understanding of the political process and health policy and to inspire them to take the lead in advocacy that advances the PA profession.  

As part of the fellowship, Lucas attended a three-day series of workshops in Washington, D.C., last September. The workshops addressed important issues currently facing PAs, such as the opioid epidemic and how PAEA is working to combat the epidemic, as well as issues relating to PA practice and the importance of advocacy. These workshops provided tools Lucas will use as he completes his fellowship and as he enters the workforce in a few short months.  

While in Washington, D.C., Lucas continued to build relationships with representatives, senators and congressional staffers from his home state of Kentucky to advocate for important issues, including incentivizing PAs serving as primary care providers or faculty members and increasing grants for research on PA education.

Lucas also participated in the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) Leadership and Advocacy Summit and is planning to attend the 2019 summit in March. He was just elected to a second term representing the Student Academy of AAPA as a delegate to the AAPA House of Delegates.   

To complete his fellowship, Lucas will be developing and implementing his own advocacy project. He is working with Mark Christiansen, his faculty adviser and director of the Physician Assistant program, on a project to increase student involvement in lobbying and advocacy for California's Optimal Team Practice legislation set to be introduced in the coming weeks.  

Lucas has been interested in advocacy since he was a Pre-PA undergraduate at the University of Kentucky. He lobbied to improve PA practice within the state as a student member of the Kentucky Academy of PAs and gained exposure to advocacy and the legislative process during a semester-long internship with Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers.  

"What appealed to me most about Pacific's PA program was the level of experience of the faculty and their leadership in the profession outside the program," said Lucas. "It inspired me to look forward and aim high in my goals."  

Christiansen serves on the board of the California Academy of Physician Assistant (CAPA), Academic Director Tracey DelNero is a California delegate for American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) House of Delegates and Admission Director Jed Grant is president of the California Physician Assistant Board.  

"The faculty and the program have continued to support me in all my leadership pursuits, which has allowed me to make connections with future colleagues and PA leaders across the country," Lucas said.  

Lucas offers this encouragement for students interested in the Physician Assistant program:  

"Your time as a PA student extends farther than the reach of your program. This is your time to get a jump start on networking with your future colleagues from across the nation. I promise that networking will only open more doors for you."