Indiana State University Newsroom

Physician's assistant, nursing students provide exams for foster grandparents

December 14, 2011

Bree Randall is among students in Indiana State University's College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services who are gaining experience in performing physical examinations under the guidance of faculty members.

Randall, a first-year student in the university's new master's program in physician assistant studies, joined other students from that program and the family nurse practitioner program in examining 40 foster grandparents during a two-day clinic in November.

With each exam she gained more confidence.

"I noticed a change from my first patient to my second one. I just feel more comfortable dealing with the patients and knowing what questions to ask. I've learned a lot from the nurse practitioners here," she said. "I had a few questions about my first patient and they were able to show me better ways to examine and give me some pointers. Everyone does things a little differently and you can pick up on different aspects of their exams and figure out what you like best."

Founded in 1981, the Sycamore Nursing Center provides a variety of services to the community, helping students gain experience - and confidence - while helping area residents stay healthy.

The center has provided exams to foster grandparents since 1999. This year marked the first time students in the new master's program in physician assistant studies joined family nurse practitioner students and nurse practitioner faculty at the clinic.

"It was a pleasure to collaborate with Shaum Grammer from the physician's assistant faculty as well as Julie Fine and Deb Vincent from the family nursing practice faculty who mentored the students throughout the two days of providing exams," said Susan Eley, associate professor of advanced practice nursing and director of the famliy nursing practice and newly launched doctor of nursing practice programs.

"It's an opportunity for us to take care of our senior citizens who help us in the community looking after young children," Eley said. "They are great volunteers and they're wonderful patients."

Such clinics provide "a wonderful opportunity to have some inter-professional engagement. Hands-on means experiential learning at its best here at the Sycamore Nursing Center," she said.

"It's a good way to apply our knowledge from the first year and help our community," said Nicholas Eley, a physician's assistant student from Effingham, Ill. "It's a good way to learn and work with educators and it's rewarding."

The foster grandparents on the receiving end of the exams - all of whom have reached that point in their lives where they are very experienced patients - praised the program and the students.

"It's a real help to all us grandmas. It saves us money and it helps us to know what's going on in our bodies," said Delores Seal.

"It means a lot to me," added Ernest Wycoff. "(The students) do a fantastic job, I think."

Wycoff said the students seemed more thorough in their approach than some physicians who have treated him.

"I've been coming here at least once a year for the past six years," he said.

Founded in 1981, the Sycamore Nursing Center serves individuals and families of all ages in the Wabash Valley by providing comprehensive health assessments, histories and physical examinations, age appropriate immunizations for children, and clinical learning experiences for ISU students. The center is housed in the Landsbaum Center for Health Education at 1433 N. 6 ½ Street. More information about the Sycamore Nursing Center is available by calling 812-237-2320.

Photo: - Bree Randall, a student in Indiana State University physician's assistant studies program, prepares to examine a patient during a clinic for foster grandparents at the university's Sycamore Nursing Center. (ISU/Tony Campbell)]

Photo: - Nicholas Eley, a physician's assistant student at Indiana State University, examines a patient during a health clinic for foster grandparents at the university's Sycamore Nursing Center. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Contact: Susan Eley, associate professor, advanced practice nursing, College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services, Indiana State University, 812-237-7918 or

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or



Story Highlights

Students in the College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services master's degree programs in physician's assistant studies and family nurse practitioner gained valuable experience and helped community volunteers at the same time.

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