The School of Health Professions welcomed new full-time faculty members this semester: Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies Richard Gilbert, M.S., PA-C; Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy Hugh Lee, M.S.; and Visiting Instructor of Occupational Therapy Kelly McClintock, B.S.
Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant (PA) Studies Erika R. Francis ’13, MSPAS, PA-C and Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant (PA) Studies Michelle A. Salerno Gruver MSPAS, PA-C, have received a Faculty Loan Repayment Program (FLRP) awards from Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) which is part of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). This is a competitive federal loan repayment program specifically targeting faculty teaching in the health professions. The program’s goal is to decrease the economic barriers associated with pursuing faculty careers at academic institutions for people with disadvantaged backgrounds and certain health professions degrees or certificates. The award provides up to $40,000, with the fulfillment of a two-year commitment to teaching PA students at Shenandoah University. For Francis, the award will cover her remaining student loan debt, while it will cover a portion of Gruver’s student loan debt.
Awards like the FLRP are valuable, Gruver said, because they provide opportunities that might not otherwise be available to health care professionals who want to train their profession’s next generation. Gruver joined Shenandoah’s faculty in November 2016.
Francis said that, in the current marketplace, it is a bit of a financial sacrifice to move from the clinical world to the academic one. Francis applied for the FLRP award in 2016, but was turned down. This time around, she said her success could not have been possible without the support of Director of the Division of Physician Assistant Studies Anthony Miller M.Ed., PA-C; Interim Dean of the School of Health Professions Karen Abraham, Ph.D.; Vice President for Academic Affairs Adrienne Bloss, Ph.D.; and Director of Grants and Research Support Marguerite Landenburger. Francis said Landenburger was particularly helpful in showing her where she could strengthen and improve her application. “This was a tremendous collaborative effort by some incredibly supportive people,” Gruver said. “Both Marguerite Landenburger and Adrienne Bloss worked endlessly to support our applications and did not waver in their efforts to help meet deadlines and make sure each step of the process was complete and accurate.”
Additionally, Gruver said, “Erika was instrumental throughout my application process. We were able to utilize learning points from the previous year’s application process in order to better strengthen and prepare for this new application cycle.”
Being a PA was a second career for Francis. With undergraduate degrees in studio art and math, she initially pursued a career in sports marketing. She had an interest in being a PA in high school, but didn’t have the drive to follow that path until relocating to Winchester and as her children grew older. After earning her degree, she worked practicing medicine in the clinical setting while teaching part time at Shenandoah. She reflected that “the part of the week I was spending with students was my favorite part of the week.” That, and the satisfaction she had when, as a second-year PA student, she could share her limited knowledge with first-year PA students on Shenandoah’s annual interdisciplinary mission trip to Nicaragua (she went on the trip twice as a student), turned her toward an interest in teaching. She became a full-time faculty member in the Division of PA Studies at Shenandoah University in January 2016.
Director of Graduate Public Health Programs and Assistant Professor of Public Health Michelle Gamber, D.P.H., recently traveled to Ethiopia to work with two large NGOs (World Vision and CARE) as well as a local Ethiopian NGO (ORDA). The organizations have received a grant from USAID (the U.S. Government’s development agency) to address food security and maternal and child health in select areas of Ethiopia. Dr. Gamber assisted the organizations with one of their assessments, called a gender analysis. “The goal of this analysis is to understand the barriers to gender equity and women’s empowerment in the program setting and how this impacts health and other outcomes of men, women, boys and girls at the household and community level,” Gamber said. “The results of this study will be used to address the barriers uncovered in this research. My role in this assessment was to create the research tools, train data collectors, oversee data collection, analyze results and present findings and recommendations to these organizations.
“Studies like these are important to the government of Ethiopia to better understand the challenges of the diverse communities it serves in Ethiopia,” she said. “These studies are also important to the U.S. government to better understand the impacts of investments in development programming and for USAID to assess how best to address gender equity and women’s empowerment in the settings in which they work.”
The Division of Athletic Training has appointed a new program medical director, Dr. Brandon Bryant, who is both part of Inova Sports Medicine and one of the team physicians for the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Athletic training students will attend clinical internships with Bryant, who is a board-certified specialist in both orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine, with more than 10 years of clinical experience. He joined Inova Medical Group in 2016 after serving as an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist and commander in the U.S. Navy. He specializes in treating all disorders of the knee and shoulder, with interests in ligament reconstruction, meniscus repair and transplant, cartilage preservation, patellofemoral disorders, rotator cuff and labral tears, and biologic procedures. Bryant began his Naval career following residency training at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center. He completed a fellowship in sports medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, further specializing in the complex treatment of knee and shoulder injuries. During fellowship training, he served as an assistant team physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the University of Pittsburgh, Robert Morris University and Duquesne University.
After his fellowship in sports medicine, Bryant was stationed at Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, where he also served as an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery and head orthopaedic and sports medicine consultant to all Naval Special Warfare Groups in nearby Virginia Beach. He deployed to a combat hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2011 and 2012, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where he also served as the orthopaedic surgery department head.
Assistant Director of Scholar Plaza-Loudoun and Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies Stephanie Bernard, M.M.Sc., PA-C, R.D.; Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies Erika R. Francis, MSPAS, PA-C; and Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies Morgan Nowak, M.S., PA-C, co-wrote an article published online by the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). Called “Thou Shalt Not! Top 10 Challenges for New Faculty,” the article reveals how the trio “reflected upon common challenges and pitfalls and have identified what not to do in our early academic careers, as well as positive strategies for digging in, working hard, and staying put in academia beyond the initial few years.” The article can be found at http://paeaonline.org.
Distinguished Professor and Director of the Division of Physician Assistant Studies Anthony Miller M.Ed., PA-C, co-authored (with Olivia Ziegler) the chapter “Physician Assistant Education: Past, Present, and Future Challenges” which appears in the 6th edition of “Physician Assistant: A Guide to Clinical Practice.”