Physician assistant students receive National Health Service Corps Scholarship
Riverside, Calif. (Jan. 26, 2023) – Three students in the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program at California Baptist University are recipients of a National Health Service Corps Scholarship.
The competitive scholarship, a program in the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, pays for tuition and provides a monthly stipend. In return, recipients commit to providing primary care health services to underserved communities for a minimum of two years. Approximately 10 percent of the applicants receive a scholarship award, according to the website.
Srisha Jhangiani, class of 2023, and Alyssa Ayudante and Chelsey Cheatham, both in the class of 2024, were awarded the scholarship at the start of their programs, covering both years.
The CBU program offers a curriculum that supports a missional mindset, said Dr. Heather Ontiveros, chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. The curriculum starts with Global Health Engagement (PAS 535), which provides students with a better understanding of what healthcare looks like locally and globally.
“In response to our curriculum, we have applicants that seek out a program that allows them to fulfil their personal mission of serving the medically underserved,” Ontiveros said. “CBU's physician assistant program will prepare graduates who are globally minded and academically prepared to provide quality health care in their communities and to underserved populations.”
Cheatham wants to return to her home state of Texas and serve in Hardin and Jasper counties.
“My family lives in these health-professional shortage areas and at times cannot access timely medical care because of geographic distance,” Cheatham said. “Serving these counties presents an opportunity to make a positive impact within my own community and the larger society within which we all live.”
Cheatham hopes to start a nonprofit to serve the homeless through street medicine, she said.
“What drew me to the PA field was the versatility which would allow me to give back to the community,” Cheatham said. “As a PA, you receive in-depth training and exposure to many different facets of medicine. This provides a solid foundation to volunteer in clinics, underserved communities and medical relief.”
Before starting the PA program, Jhangiani volunteered at a medical clinic in Los Alamitos, California.
“Every individual should have access to primary care visits, and I am excited to help contribute to reducing the provider shortage,” Jhangiani said.
Physician assistants can diagnose illnesses, interpret labs and tests, prescribe medication and perform a physical exam, allowing her to practice medicine in various settings, Jhangiani said.
“I also appreciate the collaborative aspect of the PA profession,” Jhangiani said. “The kindness, support and mentorship I have received from my PA mentors and faculty has been incredible. I am excited to be a part of this profession and give back by extending this support to pre-PAs and students when I become a PA.”
Ayudante discovered the PA profession when she was 17. After Ayudante developed a passion for chemistry in high school, her mom, who is a nurse, suggested Ayudante volunteer in the hospital. She did so in the emergency department and loved it. It was there she came across the position of physician assistant and discovered that was what she wanted to pursue.
“I liked the pace of the environment and the feeling of helping brighten someone's day, even as a volunteer. I wanted to continue that and make medicine my profession,” Ayudante said.
She is flexible in where she will serve her two years, though she would like Riverside or her hometown of Oxnard, California.
“I truly think deciding to go to CBU was the best and right choice. My experience here has strengthened my relationship with Christ, which has kept me grounded,” Ayudante said. “PA school is something that was meant for me. And in turn, I know there's something great that's going to come out of it — even if I have no idea what that is yet!”