Traverse City health professions donates supplies to Munson; students anxious to return to clinical assignments

woman wearing a medical white coat outside
Mariah Ehrke is majoring in physician assistant studies at the Traverse City Regional Center and is scheduled to graduate in December.
Image Credit: courtesy photo

Students, faculty and staff members at Grand Valley's Traverse City Regional Center recently donated masks, gloves and other PPE to Munson Medical Center.

Nicholus Kopacki, physician assistant studies site director and assistant program director, said he asked students and colleagues about making the donation in late April and was met with enthusiasm.

"It was their way of giving back to the health care community," Kopacki said. 

Like their peers in Grand Rapids, Traverse City PAS students who were on clinical rotations in March remain in a holding pattern, waiting to return to that work after the stay-at-home executive order is lifted.

Mariah Ehrke had finished her second week at an out-patient facility in Gaylord. "It was disappointing when clinical rotations were suspended," Ehrke said. "I was excited to get out of the classroom and gain hands-on experience."

Kopacki doesn't know when clinical partners in northern Michigan will welcome back students, as the health care industry slowly rebounds from doing triage care during the peak of the pandemic.

"We will play it by ear. The hospitals in the U.P. and in this area did not see many COVID-19 cases; hopefully they will be ready soon for our students," he said.

Ehrke hopes she and others in her cohort are not too far behind; they are scheduled to graduate in December.

"I feel the GVSU clinical team is doing a great job at making sure we’re staying updated on things and making sure our rotation objectives are met," she said. "I am worried about being confident enough to get into the workforce without a lot of interaction with patients while on clinicals."

Kopacki said the PAS program is working diligently to keep the graduation timeline on track for the current clinical year students. He expressed appreciation and admiration for current students, who created a thank-you video for faculty and staff members.

"This is an amazing group of students," he said. "They even made a video to show their appreciation. For them to take the time to recognize our positions was incredible."