Educating Physician Assistants

Conner O'Brien

Conner O’Brien

Dr. Christian Ogilvie

Christian Ogilvie, MD

On February 10, 2021 rhabdomyosarcoma survivor, Conner O’Brien, and University of Minnesota orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Christian Ogilvie, shared their time with the class of 2022 physician assistant students from Bethel University via Zoom to bring forth awareness and education on sarcoma and the impact it may have on the medical provider.

At the start of the session, Connor walked the students through his sarcoma story from diagnosis to remission. He spoke vulnerably about his experience with rhabdomyosarcoma and how the special relationship that he developed with his oncology PA impacted him during his treatment. The students then had a Q & A with Connor and asked a variety of questions in what it was like getting diagnosed with and having cancer, going through treatment, his support system, his involvement with Rein in Sarcoma, and even what kind of diet he had during treatment!

After Conner’s session, Dr. Ogilvie presented education on types of sarcoma, populations affected, and how they present clinically. He shared an inspiring candid view of how he got into this specific field of medicine. His passion could be seen as he talked about some of the experiences he has had over the years.

The Bethel PA students were very appreciative of Conner and Dr. Ogilvie’s time and their willingness to share their personal stories and education about sarcoma. Sarcoma is an insidious cancer that is often not emphasized to students entering into a provider role. They may read about it in textbooks, but giving a face and a genuine story about the impact of this disease makes it more personal for the PA who is providing the care, and thus more memorable as to not miss the diagnosis.

Through the relationship between Bethel University and Rein in Sarcoma, PA students now have sarcoma education they can implement in their future practice that they would not have otherwise had before this encounter. Because of this, the likelihood these PAs will be able to recognize sarcoma when they see it in the future is increased. Through the relationship between these two organizations, future sarcoma patients may have a better outcome and/or experience because PAs graduating from Bethel University had this opportunity during their training.   

– Written by Jennifer Gribble, PA Student Class of 2022

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