First Year PA Student Blog: Megan Mitchell


Another year of the Burton Elementary School annual health education event is in the books! This event, which the Duke Physician Assistant Program has put on for over 20 years, is organized, fundraised, and run exclusively by students with the guiding help of faculty advisor Marty Nelson, MHS, PA-C. Students Jamie Schwartz, Diana Le, Katrina Domingo, and I were the minds and organizers behind this year’s very successful Minecraft theme event. A total of 40 volunteers from the class of 2024 visited 4th graders at the elementary school for an afternoon helping students “mine for experience points” and learn more about healthy lifestyle choices.  

The afternoon started with a skit where Minecraft character “Blue”, played by Divine Mengue, visited the Physician Assistant, played by Maddie Parker, and took at trip through the body meeting germs and exploring the body. Students then broke up into groups and rotated through 5 stations focusing on nutrition, heart health and physical activity, dental health, handwashing, career education, mental health and bullying awareness.  

Duke students working with Burton students to discuss feelings


It was impressive and encouraging to see the 4th graders engage with the material and share their experience and knowledge. After a fun game at the mental health station where students had to work as a team to keep a beach ball in the air, they reflected on their emotions ranging from feeling anxious to confident during the activity and discussed effective coping mechanisms for difficult feelings. The nutrition station was a particular favorite as it not only included healthy snacks, but students loved talking about their favorite foods and learning how to make a balanced diet.  

We were able to raise almost $300 to fund the event, filling student goody bags with fun Minecraft and medically themed toys. For the heart health station, we provided students with their own disposable stethoscopes for them to listen to their heart pre/post exercise. It was very exciting to share our anatomical and physiologic knowledge with the students.  


Duke students presenting to Burton Elementary students


Reflecting on the event, Marty wrote, “The energy and engagement from the young ones made it clear that you made quite an impact,It’s rewarding to think that the students will use what we taught them to stay happy and healthy. 

This event embodies Duke’s Physician Assistant Program mission of educating future PAs to be “dedicated to their communities. It is one special way students can not only serve a community, but learn how to create health events and promote community health education. I am very grateful to have been a part of planning this event and am so proud of all the fellow volunteers who helped make it a dynamite success! 


Duke PA Program students jumping rope with Burton Elementary students



Megan Mitchell is a first-year student with the Duke Physician Assistant Program. Email with questions.

Editor’s note: Duke Physician Assistant Program students blog monthly. Blogs represent the opinion of the author, not the Duke Physician Assistant Program, the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, or Duke University.

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