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Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions
Department of Physician Assistant Studies
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2014 National Health Service Corps Scholarship Recipient

Chasity Gibson, Class of 2015, recently became the recipient of the 2014 National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship.  The scholarship pays tuition, fees, other educational costs, and provides a living stipend in return for a commitment to work at least two years at an approved outpatient facility in a medically underserved community.  Service begins upon graduation. The NHSC helps scholars find a practice site that's right for them among the hundreds of NHSC-approved sites in medically underserved urban, rural and frontier communities across the U.S. When in service, scholars earn a market-rate salary, paid by the employing facility.

“Being awarded this scholarship is going to be of tremendous help to me,” Chasity says.  “I’ve always had to work my way through school but I knew coming into the program that PA school doesn’t really allow much time, if any, for working secularly but I needed the money.  I was thinking about becoming a waitress on the weekends because I needed the money, but now I don’t have to.  For the first time in my life I can just concentrate on my school work and study without having to worry about money.”

Chasity was selected for the scholarship due to her intense desire and passion for working in primary care.  “I didn’t really have to do anything different or special when I applied,” Chasity said.  “I am already planning to work in primary care in a rural area.”

Chasity hales from a somewhat rural area of Alabama, Phenix City but says it doesn’t matter where she lands after graduation as long as it’s a primary care site in a rural area. 

“I’ve always had a passion for helping those less fortunate and want to be able to give back,” Chasity says.  “I grew up in a single parent household and my mom, who was disabled, really had to struggle to take care of us.  When the struggle became too much my grandparents often had to step in and intervene,” Chasity said.  Many of her family members were without medical insurance so she witnessed firsthand the struggles they faced. 

She has taken her desire to help others and already begun parlaying it into her plans for the future.  Chasity began taking church-sponsored medical mission trips to Rwanda in 2011 and saw firsthand the lack of adequate healthcare.  She has traveled to Rwanda each year since 2011 and is working with a nurse from her hometown and a pastor in Rwanda who are interested in opening health clinic in the area. 

“I am anxious to finish my PA training a get a few years of experience under my belt so that I can return to Rwanda bring some relief to those who truly need it.” 

Class of 2015 Help Bring Awareness to Childhood Cancer

The Class of 2015 recently worked through aTeam Ministries in Birmingham, AL to raise awareness of childhood cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September. By wearing the shirts, they reminded people that kids are diagnosed with cancer too, and it is not as rare as most people think.

aTeam provides emotional, financial, and spiritual support for pediatric oncology patients and their families.

Childhood cancer gets the least amount of funding. There are 12 different types of childhood cancer with numerous subtypes. All 12 types combined only get 4% of funding.

According to an article in the Atlantic (January 2013) in 2007, about 10,400 children were diagnosed with childhood cancer, according to the NCI, and about 12,060 diagnoses were expected this year. About $122 million was spent on non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (just one form of childhood cancer) in 2010, according to the NCI. But that is low compared to other forms of cancer, like breast cancer, which received $631 million. Since 2010, the budget has continued to decrease.
"When October comes around you will see all the pink ribbons (for breast cancer), but you don't see many gold ribbons in September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month," said Joe McDonough, who founded the B+ Foundation, which provides financial support to families, after his son passed away.

Funding Disparities

  • Despite these facts, childhood cancer research is vastly and consistently underfunded.
  • In 20 years the FDA has initially approved only two drugs for any childhood cancer – 1/2 of all chemotherapies used for children’s cancers are over 25 years old
  • Research and development for new drugs from pharmaceutical companies comprises 60% of funding for adult cancer drugs and close to zero for childhood cancers.
  • However, the NCI spends 96% of its budget on adult cancers and only 4% of its budget on children’s cancers.
  • In dollar terms, NCI’s funding for pediatric clinical trials is $26.4 million while funding for AIDS research is $254 million, and breast cancer is $584 million.
  • Pharmaceutical companies don’t commit resources to childhood cancer research because the adult cancer drug business is viewed as more profitable and less risky to them.
  • Accordingly, there is an estimated $30 million a year gap in childhood cancer research funding.
    (I Care I Cure Childhood Cancer Foundation)
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is designed to increase the knowledge of childhood cancer. Why? If we increase awareness, we will increase funding. If we increase funding, we will increase research. If we increase research, we will be closer to finding a cure. Who more deserves a cure than these relentless kids who continue to laugh, smile, and inspire throughout their treatment?

University of South Alabama Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions Department of Physician Assistant Studies