The wave of the future
PA students making a difference
The Faculty of Health Sciences is renowned for producing exceptional medical professionals who are also committed to the betterment of their community.
In the College of Medicine, the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS), educates outstanding Physician Assistant (PA) clinicians who serve their communities and advance the profession in Manitoba and across Canada. The MPAS program nurtures the future leaders of the profession and leads the field in academic preparation of PAs in Canada.
Danika Taylor is one of the MPAS students who is making a difference. Currently in her second year of the two-year program, Taylor has focused her efforts on literacy, a cause that’s close to her heart. She spearheaded the local ‘Words in Action’ program through Girl Guides of Canada. Through this initiative, Taylor organized a book drive in Transcona that collected over 600 books that were donated to the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre.
“I have always been passionate about literacy,” the 23-year-old says. “I have been a leader with Girl Guides for six years and have always been looking for a new way to be involved in my community. When the opportunity arose to become the Manitoba representative for ‘Words in Action’ I took it.”
Taylor sees her work with ‘Words in Action’ as a natural fit with her role in MPAS. “As a physician assistant, much of our time will be spent working towards health literacy among our patients and the community,” she notes. “My work with ‘Words in Action’ is very similar. I am working to promote literacy and help educate people in underserved communities.”
In fact, Taylor attributes her interest in medicine as a key component in her desire to give back. “I was drawn to the MPAS program because of my interest in medicine, but also by my desire to remain involved in my community, which is possible because of the flexibility and mobility provided by being a PA,” she says. “I want to serve my community in more ways than one and I believe that being a PA will allow me to do so in several different capacities as a healthcare worker and community volunteer.”
Cam Krisko is another second-year MPAS student who is devoting his time to a community effort. Krisko is the local president of ‘Making Waves’, a national not-for-profit organization that provides affordable swimming lessons to children with special needs. The program currently serves 285 children in Winnipeg, Brandon, Dauphin and Carman, with plans to expand further across the province.
Interestingly, before ‘Making Waves,’ Krisko had worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor at the University of Manitoba. Through the ‘Making Waves’ program, Krisko has developed organizational and leadership skills that he hopes will serve him well in his future career as a healthcare professional. “When I heard about ‘Making Waves’ and the possibility of it coming to
Winnipeg, I was immediately very excited and I knew that I had to become involved in some way,” Krisko says. “In three short months we had a pool, 10 swimmers, 10 volunteers and the first-ever session of ‘Making Waves’ in Winnipeg had begun. I often tell people that when my day involves ‘Making Waves’–related work, I know it’s going to be a great day.”
Krisko is gratified when he hears that the families who participate in ‘Making Waves’ are having a positive experience. “Our feedback has been incredible,” he says. “The parents and families involved with the organization are amazing people and often express there are no programs quite like ours. They love how dedicated our volunteers are and that the programming is of high quality.”
Like Taylor, Krisko also finds that his volunteer work complements his work in MPAS.
“I think that my work with ‘Making Waves’ and learning how to communicate with volunteers, parents, swimmers and sponsors will equate to being a great clinician,” he says. “It has also helped to fuel my passion to work in a pediatric setting when I graduate.”