Pomona Mayor Norma Torres visited Physician Assistant students at Western University of Health Sciences to recognize the importance of their profession.

She presented to the students a proclamation, signed by the Pomona City Council, declaring Oct. 6-12, 2008, “Physician Assistant Week” in Pomona. Also on hand to welcome Torres was WesternU President Philip Pumerantz, PhD, College of Allied Health Professions Dean Stephanie Bowlin, EdD, PA-C, and Roy Guizado, MS, PA-C, Chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Education.

The proclamation is an acknowledgment of students’ hard work in reaching their goals, and shows respect for a profession that helps make affordable health care available to local residents, Torres said.

“These students will be on the front line of medical care programs in Pomona and other cities,” she said.

A physician assistant is a health care professional who is licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision, according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). A PA conducts physical exams, diagnoses and treats illnesses, orders and interprets tests, counsels on preventative health care, assists in surgery and writes prescriptions. There are nearly 80,000 PAs working today, according to AAPA.

PA Week is a time to celebrate the work of PAs and educate people about their roles and responsibilities, Guizado said. PA Week expanded from PA Day, which celebrates the first graduating class of PA students at Duke University on Oct. 6, 1967.

PAs approach the practice of medicine with heart and sincerity, said Shamim Remtulla, president of the MSPA Class of 2010. They offer access to quality health care to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status. National Physician Assistant Week serves to call attention to this noble profession, she said.

The PA students are organizing basketball and volleyball games, a luncheon and a scavenger hunt this week in celebration of PA Week. They asked Pomona officials to recognize National PA Week for two reasons.

"One, it is important to build relationships and have the acknowledgment of civic leaders, especially in a profession that is relatively young," Remtulla said. "Second, as first-year Physician Assistant students, we are in the most rigorous program on campus. Having the mayor present a proclamation was uplifting and it reminded us of why we chose to pursue this profession."