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Recent grad receives award from state professional society

Bryan M. Bilbao, who earned a combined bachelor’s/master’s degree in physician assistant studies from Pennsylvania College of Technology in August, recently received a Thomas J. Lemley Award for Health Disparities from the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants.

Award winners were announced Nov. 4 at the society’s annual conference in Pittsburgh.

Competitors were asked to address the topic “Trauma-informed care in health care.” In 2020, the Office of the Governor created an initiative to make Pennsylvania a “trauma-informed, healing-centered state.” According to the Center for Health Care Strategies, the goal of trauma-informed care is to help patients overcome the effects of trauma by considering not only “What’s wrong with you?” but “What happened to you?”

Recent Pennsylvania College of Technology graduate Bryan M. Bilbao, of Old Forge, has received a Thomas J. Lemley Award for Health Disparities from the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants.
Recent Pennsylvania College of Technology graduate Bryan M. Bilbao, of Old Forge, has received a Thomas J. Lemley Award for Health Disparities from the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants.

Physician assistants and physician assistant students were invited to submit an essay, slideshow, video or other presentation to reflect on the topic. Bilbao received the award for certified physician assistants.

He submitted two video projects he completed as a Penn College student. The first, “Does Healthcare Care? #WHYICARE,” shared the story of his late grandmother’s care and interviews with 10 other people of diverse backgrounds who discussed the disparities or difficulties they experienced as patients. The second video, “Health Caring,” shares the efforts of those who are trying to ensure all receive equitable, respectful health care.

“The trauma-informed aspect really came from the mental and physical traumas patients may see when trying to receive health care, which fit perfectly around the realm of what I fight for,” Bilbao said. “Especially since the first video was about bad experiences patients felt from their point of view.”

Bilbao, of Old Forge, is a physician assistant for ApolloMD. He works in the emergency rooms of Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, Regional Hospital of Scranton and Moses Taylor Hospital.

He will be included in PSPA’s winter newsletter, and his video projects will be featured on the society’s webpage to help educate others about health care disparities. He has accepted an invitation to be part of the society’s Health Care Disparities and Cultural Competence Committee and, as part of his award, received free registration for the 2023 annual conference.

Lemley, who died in 2008, brought the Award for Health Disparities to life in 2004 with a vision of finding ways to increase awareness of the diverse needs of patients. With his guidance, the Health Disparities Committee (formerly called the Diversity Council) sought ways to look at issues of health disparities and highlight the efforts of those who are doing their share to increase awareness and shed light on solutions.

Bilbao is the third Penn College student to receive the award.

The topic for the 2023 competition is “The Care of Adopted and/or Foster Patients and Their Families.” Details for entering are on the PSPA website.

The PSPA is a constituent chapter of the American Academy of Physician Associates.

To learn more about Penn College’s master’s degree in physician assistant studies, call 570-327-4519.

For information about the college, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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