Name: Andrea Heeter, PA-C, MSPH, CHES, ATC, CMT
Degrees & Graduation Year: Dual MSPH and MPAP
Current Job Title: Primary Care PA
Practice Site: Kewa Pueblo Health Corporation; Santo Domingo Health Center
Job Description: As a PA at the Santo Domingo Health Center, I am responsible for carrying my own primary care patient load. I also take urgent care walk-in, same-day appointments within the Native American population. As a primary care PA, my job is to educate my patients on their illnesses, conditions, the medications they are taking, the importance of medication adherence, as well as the importance of lifestyle changes on chronic illness prevention and treatment.
How did CPHS impact you as a person: Both the public health and physician assistant programs at Campbell University emphasize the importance of rural primary health care. Through the public health program, I was educated on important barriers to quality health care, as well as food insecurity and access to a safe place to exercise. I was taught to view each patient as a whole, not just what they present to the clinic. I was able to find my passion in this career due to professors like Dr. David Tillman.
How do you use the skills you learned from CPHS to get your current job: Due to my education on underserved populations in rural areas, I became interested in Indian Health Services (IHS). I was fortunate enough to have a PA rotation in primary care in Utah for IHS, and I knew that I had found a career. CPHS helped me understand the need for community involvement, patient and community education, and how to utilize cultural sensitivity when working with the indigenous people of this country. CPHS helped to prepare me for these important aspects of my career.
What were you involved in at CPHS: I participated in community health fairs and education events, fundraising for the Harnett County food pantry and animal shelter, free community HIV testing, opioid epidemic awareness, and ServNC SMAT/Disaster Relief training. I was also the Vice President of the Student Public Health Association as well as a Student Ambassador. I sat on the PA committee for the Make-a-Wish Golf Tournament.
Favorite CPHS memory: My favorite CPHS memory is traveling with the Public Health program to Guatemala. As a team, we helped build safe and fuel-efficient stoves for the indigenous Mayan people of Guatemala. This experience opened my eyes to the disparities and injustices faced by indigenous people, therefore helping me to choose my career focus on the indigenous people of America.
What advice do you have to incoming first-year CPHS professional students: Get involved. Branch out and work with as many people as you can, including other programs in CPHS. Seek advice from the Student Services department. They can guide you in the right direction to speak with people based on your interests. Your community and the experiences you will have can be just as important as the education you learn in the classroom.
Lastly, enjoy the time with CPHS as much as you can. There will always be draining and difficult days, but there will be just as many good days that will give you the energy to finish what you have started, and remind you why you are doing it in the first place.