UC Davis physician assistant student receives national VA scholarship

Veteran chooses to serve other vets

July 18, 2019

Catherine Feeley, a physician assistant student at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, received a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP) scholarship to pursue her passion to serve fellow veterans and helps the administration meet its need for qualified health care professionals.

UC Davis master's-degree student Catherine Feeley looks forward to serving fellow veterans as a physician assistant for the VA. UC Davis master's-degree student Catherine Feeley looks forward to serving fellow veterans as a physician assistant for the VA.

Feeley is a member of the Class of 2020 pursuing a master’s degree in physician assistant (P.A.) studies. She is a former corpsman who served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 12 years. This award, and the opportunity to serve other veterans, underscores the reason she chose to become a P.A.

“As a veteran, the health care I’ve received through the VA is a godsend,” Feeley said. “The Coast Guard exposed me to the world, paid for my bachelor’s degree and is now helping me fund my master’s program. I’ve taken advantage of all the VA has the offer and now I want to give back.”

The scholarship provides for the payment of a monthly stipend, tuition, required fees and other reasonable educational expenses, including books and necessary equipment. After completion of their education, participants must serve full-time at a VA clinic with direct patient care as a P.A.

“I want to be a vet taking care of vets. UC Davis taught me that the most valuable thing in treating people is the information they share with you. I hope that these shared experiences will help my patients feel comfortable with me as a provider and partner with me for their health,” Feeley said.

Today, the VA employs more than 2,200 P.A.s, making it the largest employer of P.A.s in the country. Recently passed competitive-pay legislation, along with this scholarship, attempt to reduce the VA’s challenges in recruiting, hiring and retaining P.A.s.

“I applaud Catherine’s passion to serve and her desire to increase access to quality care for our nation’s veterans,” added Jeff Pearl, UC Davis P.A. program director. “She represents what is possible when advanced practice providers are prepared and excited about filling voids that exist in some areas of care.”

Because of health care reforms and an increasingly aging population with advanced chronic illnesses, millions more people require primary care services, exceeding the number of providers currently available. The P.A. program prepares primary care providers versed in preventive measures, who advance health through health promotion and disease prevention, practice in ambulatory and community-based settings and enhance the existing workforce.

For more information on the school and its programs, visit nursing.ucdavis.edu.

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