News » GW Physician Assistant Program Celebrates Faculty, Student Service

GW Physician Assistant Program Celebrates Faculty, Student Service

The City View Room at the George Washington University (GW) Elliot School of International Affairs was buzzing on Oct. 7 for the annual Physician Assistant (PA) Week celebration. Faculty, students, and alumni of the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) PA Program, gathered for a reception to recognize the contributions PAs make in health care.

This year, through the efforts of first-year PA student Matthew Schwartz, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a proclamation declaring Oct. 6–12 as PA Week in D.C. and recognizing the vital role that PAs play in the city’s health care system. The document was on display during the event.

The event was an opportunity for the PA program to recognize two faculty members and two students who have demonstrated commitment and service to the community, the profession, and to the education of PA students.

The Distinguished Service Award was presented to Richard Rohrs, PA-C, who has been a friend of the GW PA program for almost 30 years and is currently an assistant clinical professor of physician assistant studies, presenting lectures and serving as a preceptor for GW PA students at Northwest Hospital System and LifeBridge Medicine. The award recognizes the recipient’s dedication and commitment to the PA profession.

“Rick has been so instrumental in advocating for the profession at both the state and national levels,” said Lisa Alexander, EdD ’03, MPH ’89, PA-C ’79, professor of physician assistant studies at SMHS. “The faculty felt strongly that no one deserved this award more than Rick Rohrs.”

Smita Mengers, MD, associate clinical professor of physician assistant studies at SMHS, has served as a preceptor for more than 150 PA students over the last 25 years, Debra Herrmann, PhD, PA ’01, MPH ’01, CERT ’00, assistant professor of physician studies at SMHS, said as she presented Mengers with the Dr. Jules Cahan Distinguished Teaching Award. “I am one of them, so I can vouch that she truly deserves this recognition and award tonight.” 

The Dr. Jules Cahan Distinguished Teaching Award recognizes a faculty member for their service and teaching to GW PA students.

Another award presented at the celebration was the Terrence E. Barr Memorial Scholarship Award is presented annually to a student selected by the PA faculty for demonstrating evidence of leadership, service, and/or advocacy, said Karen Wright, PhD, PA-C, assistant dean for student life and academic support for health sciences, program director for the PA Program, and assistant professor of physician assistant studies at SMHS. 

This year’s recipient, second-year PA student Emily Masad, was selected for her participation as the historian for the James K. Tolton Society for the Class of 2020, her contribution to the program’s efforts in social media promotion, and her commitment to assisting during various activities and events. 

“When called upon to serve in any capacity, she is always ready, willing, and able with or without the proper training,” Wright said.

This year’s PA Week Reception also introduced the inaugural Dr. Frank Slaby PA Award, which was presented to first-year PA student Maddie Schenk, who was nominated by her peers and recognized by faculty for her outstanding performance in gross anatomy. The award, named for Slaby, who served as a faculty member in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology for more than four decades and taught many students at SMHS, was presented by Slaby’s wife, Susan McCune, MD, and members of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology.