UC Davis physician assistant graduates mark transition into practice

School of Nursing alumni recite oath after completing studies


I will hold as my primary responsibility the health, safety, welfare and dignity of all human beings.

Future P.A.s promised to promote the value of diversity and care for the health, safety and dignity of all humans during their ceremony.
Future P.A.s promised to promote the value of diversity and care for the health, safety and dignity of all humans during their ceremony.

I will recognize and promote the value of diversity.

I will work with other members of the health care team to provide compassionate and effective care of patients.

Those are three of the tenets of the Physician Assistant (P.A.) Professional Oath that graduates from the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis pledged at a special event on Friday, Sept. 10.

The Master of Health Services — Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2021 gathered outside Betty Irene Moore Hall to mark their transition into the profession with the recitation of the oath.

After 27 months of classroom discussions, skills lab instruction and hundreds of hours of clinical rotations, the graduates are ready to take their licensing exam. With the oath, students pledge to put the health, safety, and privacy of patients first and adhere to a professional code of ethics.

“You have worked hard to get here. Little did you know when you started your program in 2019 just how hard your classes, coursework and COVID-19 would test you,” said Jeffrey Pearl, P.A. program director. “You have mastered an intensive curriculum and busy clinical rotations and you did it during a pandemic! Your resiliency and ability to pivot — not panic — will serve you well as P.A.s.”

In alignment with the school's vision to advance health, the mission of the P.A. program is to educate health care professionals to deliver care as leaders and members of interprofessional health care teams. It also aims to improve the availability of culturally relevant primary health care to underserved populations throughout California.

P.A.s are licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, P.A.s conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery and write prescriptions.

“These professionals bring valuable expertise and perspectives to the health care team,” said Stephen Cavanagh, dean of the School of Nursing. “As our population and advanced chronic illness increase, our P.A.s contribute to a much-needed workforce for primary-care providers who are experienced in preventive measures and advance health through health promotion and disease prevention. They are a great asset for UC Davis Health.”

P.A. alumnus Keoki Leong, who now works at UC Davis Health, told the Class of 2021 their future patients are counting on them.

The expertise of P.A.s enhances the work of UC Davis Health as well. School of Nursing P.A.s, who serve as clinician educators, partner with ambulatory care to expand the need for precepting in clinics. Several post-graduate specialty fellowships also offer a workforce development pathway for advanced practice providers in specialty care.

A handful of UC Davis graduates now work at UC Davis Health. Keoki Leong, an alumnus of the Class of 2020, credits the school with connecting him with his current job in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. During the ceremony, he recounted a Hawaiian legend of the chief, Kamehameha the First, who ordered his warriors to destroy their canoes before a battle, instilling in their minds that failure was not an option.

“Each of us had to destroy our own ‘canoe’ to be here,” Leong said. “Whether those were feelings of self-doubt, fear of the unknown or learning to overcome bad habits. You were selected to be here for a reason, please never forget that. Your future patients are counting on you.”

At the conclusion of the oath, Assistant Program Director Teresa Thetford shared a parting thought with the graduates: “Please remember that it’s an absolute privilege to care for patients. We owe them nothing less than providing compassionate, highest quality care. Stay true to this value with honesty and dedication in all you do. Remember your P.A. Oath.”

Watch a recording of the virtual event on Facebook.

Learn more about the School of Nursing P.A. program.