Martha Petersen, Associate Director, Physician Assistant Institute

Posted by on September 16, 2013 in Features | 0 comments

Room 20

Martha Petersen,

Martha Petersen,
Associate Director, Physician Assistant Institute

My office is one of first places people see, so feel that I’m often the face of the PA program. I want it to reflect a friendly, sunny environment. My window is my favorite part. I love to walk in and look at Seaside Park and the Sound. I think it helps to have nature around when I’m counseling students. It’s a Mother Earth type of thing. That’s why I’m a big plant person.

Having started out as a midwife and spending most of my career in women’s health, I’m naturally drawn to different phases of a woman’s life, most especially pregnancy and motherhood, and the art I’ve collected shows that. The wooden plaque on my bookshelf is a pregnant woman sitting on a lily pad. When I was in Brazil, there were huge lily pads on the Amazon—huge! When I saw the carving, it really resonated with me.

My stone statue of a mother and child is from Haiti. We took our students there, to the Central Plateau, on  a medical mission when I was teaching at Lock Haven University. We worked in the hospital, making rounds and helping with surgery and some emergencies, and doing practical things like helping with cleaning and observing public-health activities. We visited voodoo pharmacies. That was fascinating! Being in Haiti was also a really bonding experience, and I stay in touch with some of the students from that trip by e-mail or Facebook.

We have a course in Global Health at UB, too, and all of our faculty members have been involved in mission work. We feel very strongly that students at the Physician Assistant Institute should be exposed to different cultures, whether here or abroad. We have a strong international community in Bridgeport, and we’re in process of establishing some community projects so they can shadow at AmeriCares. It’s a free clinic for people with no insurance, so many of its patients are refugees, immigrants.

The class photos on my bookshelves are of the first classes I ever taught ever taught when I came into PA education. All the students signed them, so they’re reminders of what I’m doing.

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