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For Immediate Release November 21, 2016

Chantalle Jackson is one of seven physician assistant students participating in an exciting initiative, the Physician Assistant Rotation Program, which brings physician assistant students to learn by working with University of Maryland Community Medical Group physicians in the five-county region served by UM Shore Regional Health.

For Jackson, whose parents are now retired from the U.S. Air Force and settled with her younger siblings in Smithfield, Virginia, the PA profession was a natural choice.

“I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field,” says Jackson, a self-described “military brat” who earned her undergraduate degree in biology from Hampton University in Virginia before enrolling in the PA graduate program then offered by University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES). “But medical school seemed like it would be such a long road, and when my college adviser suggested I consider becoming a physician assistant, it seemed a better choice for me.”

Offered in partnership with Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) and now with University of Maryland at Baltimore (UMB), the year-long rotation program enables UM SRH physicians to serve as preceptors for students in the AACC and UMB combined Physician Assistant/Master of Science in Health Science program.

The PA rotation program benefits students, but equally important, it serves UM Shore Regional Health and its patients. "The training and development of a new generation of health care providers is an important service our physicians are providing to the medical profession at large and more specifically, to health care in our region,” says William Huffner, MD, chief medical officer and senior vice president, Medical Affairs. “Many PA graduates make employment choices during their clinical rotation. The feedback we are getting from several of these students is that their positive experiences in our hospitals and physician practices make the possibility of employment with us after graduation very attractive.”

Along with six other PA students, Jackson arrived at UM Shore Regional Health last March and completed an intensive orientation that covered key clinical areas. Since then, the students have been working with the physician preceptors on a rotating basis, which ensures that they receive broad experience in varied medical specialties and health care settings.

Of the rotations Jackson has completed so far, pediatrics and OB-GYN have seemed the best fit with her career interests. In September, her rotation was with Aisha Siddiqui, MD, medical director, the Birthing Center at UM SMC at Easton, and other members of the UM Community Medical Group-Women’s Health team, Barbara Kierns, MD, and certified nurse midwives Rebecca Ailstock, Michell Jordan and Brittany Krautheim.

“I loved seeing the process of pregnancy up close as I helped with patient care in the office, and it also was so exciting to be on hand for deliveries in the Birthing Center,” says Jackson. In fact, the first two deliveries I witnessed, one of which was an emergency cesarean section, took place within an hour’s time.”

“I really have learned so much by working closely with physicians and nurse practitioners,” says Jackson. “During my family practice rotation, Dr. Kim Herman really impressed me. I saw how well she knows her patients – she even knows their kids’ names. I now understand how important a good ‘bedside manner’ is – taking the time to put patients at ease so they are relaxed and will tell you more about what is going on with them.”

Jackson also was surprised by how much she appreciated working with behavioral health patients during her rotation with Eric Anderson, MD, medical director for Shore Behavioral Health. “In some rotations, like family practice, I was dealing with mostly older patients, but in psychiatry, it was a real mix – I worked with patients as young as 18 and as old as 60. They were from all walks of life with such a wide range of experiences, which made it really interesting. Many were fighting addiction and some had recently survived overdose. It was very eye-opening for me.”

Upon completion of the year-long rotation program in May ’17, Jackson and her peers in the first PA student cohort will receive the M.S. degree in health science from UMB and a certificate of Physician Assistant Studies from AACC, and will be eligible to sit for the national certification exam for physician assistants.

“Ideally, I think I’d like to serve my home community in Virginia, where my family is, but I also really like it here on the Maryland Shore,” she says. “Time will tell.”

PA student Chantalle Jackson, center with certified nurse midwives Michell Jordan and Rebecca Ailstock in the office of UM CMG – Women’s Care/OB –GYN.