Learning Beyond the Classroom

Health Symposiums and Conferences

Health Symposiums

Since 2011 USC has held multiple health symposiums each year that focus on interdisciplinary workshops and seminars. They include discussions about various specialties for students from USC's occupational therapy, pharmacy, medical, and physician assistant programs. In the past, workshops have included topics on pediatric oncology, geriatrics, mental health, patient compliance, and communication with patients. 


These events allow students to hear various speakers on specialized topics, furthering their education and preparing them to be future healthcare providers. They also provide a chance to meet with healthcare professionals through panels and ability to meet students from other healthcare disciplines. One of the most well received events is a case review. Students from each field of study weigh in and discuss the case together. This collaboration provides students with a unique learning experience that not only helps them understand healthcare on a deeper level, but also facilitates understanding between disciples regarding each other's scope of practice and education. 


One of the symposiums USC Keck School of Medicine hosted in 2015 was the Women and Children's Health Symposium on behalf of OB/GYN SIG, PedSIG, AMWA, AMSA, FMIG, and SSIG. The symposium included seminars and workshops that showcased a multidisciplinary approach to women and children's health through topics including pediatric and adolescent surgery, hands-on delivery simulation and infant intubation, interviews with patients, and transgender patient care.


During the workshops, students have the opportunity to work with medical devices and technology that they would otherwise not see until working with patients. This early exposure allows students to have an understanding beyond that of their peers. Students had a chance to practice using orthoscopic surgery devices (pictured below, left) and practice sutures, many for the first time, on pigs’ feet (pictured below, center). 


The USC PA program made an effort to reach out during this recent symposium. One of the program's faculty members, Mitzi D'Aquila, MACM, PA-C, was the speaker for one of the seminars, while students took the opportunity to tell the other health professions present about physician assistants. They set up a booth to share more about what the profession offers in healthcare (pictured below, right). 


Written by Jennifer Stambaugh (Class of 2017)


USC Student Run Clinic and 2015 Global Goals

This video is about the Student Run Clinic Health Symposium that focused on interprofessional teams of students to commit to better healthcare and wellness for all. Students from the Keck School of Medicine, the USC School of Pharmacy and the Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy all worked together to create engaging activities to push the goals of interprofessional care.

Student Challenge Bowl at the CAPA Conference


Written by Elizabeth Aguilar (Class of 2017)


The CAPA Student Medical Challenge Bowl is held at CAPA’s Annual Conference in San Diego, CA. The Challenge Bowl is an opportunity for PA students from all the PA Programs in California to compete not only for bragging rights, but also a $250 check for their student society and selected prizes for the winning students by CAPA, as well as the privilege of displaying the Challenge Bowl Trophy at their program for an entire year.


The competition begins by choosing three different programs to compete against each other, with three students comprising each team. As the questions are asked, the first team to “buzz in” is allowed to answer, to which they get 10 seconds to speak with their team members and discuss their answer before they must answer the question. If their answer is correct then they have gained 10 points, however if they answer incorrectly, they lose 10 points and the opportunity goes to the other two teams to answer the question correctly. Again first one to “buzz in” gets to answer the question and the same rules apply, get it right and you get 10 points, answer incorrectly and you lose 10 points. All of the questions are medical based questions that have most likely been covered through the didactic curriculum of each PA Program. As each round ends, the winning teams compete against each other till it is down to two teams and finally one school wins.


AAPA Conference


PA Program students win national challenge bowl trophy in 2018

A team of students from the Primary Care Physician Assistant Program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC beat out 95 other teams from around the country to earn the title of National Student Challenge Bowl winners at the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) forum in New Orleans this May.

Physician assistant (PA) program students Matthew Tan, ’18, Allison Smith, ’19, and Ryan Hom, ’19, were quick on the buzzer and exact in their answers, helping redeem themselves as the wild card pick for the final round. In the end, they defeated student teams from Pennsylvania State University, Nova Southeastern University and Butler University, winning the Challenge Bowl trophy.

Jennifer Ramos, MPAP, PA-C, clinical instructor of family medicine (clinician educator), coached the team to victory. The group trained for months and spent hours practicing. The team from USC was up 20 points in the end and answered some tough questions that helped them take the lead. The cheering section of alumni, fellow students and faculty was a small group, but they rushed the stage to congratulate the winning team.

“Despite being the underdogs, I was amazed to see our team recall obscure facts with perfect timing. They worked hard in a short time to get to this point and it really paid off,” Ramos said. “The spirit and humility of our champs inspires me.”

This is the first time that USC has won the national challenge bowl.