Just for the Health of It
Allegany Magazine publishes Health and Wellness Edition
The light at the end of this very dark COVID-19 tunnel may be getting brighter by the day but so is another reality for Western Maryland. The end of the pandemic may also mean the end of many physicians’ careers. When this health crisis reaches its end, weary health care providers who have been delaying retirement over duty will finally bow out of the profession. And no one can deny-- especially in this last year – that they have not earned the peace and quiet.
But what happens next? Where do they “make” new physicians? Who will be the next generation of health care providers to lead the community not only through another potential crisis but everyday health matters? In Western Maryland in particular, the average age of a physician is 58. While that may seem young, for a health care provider, it’s closer to retirement than medical school and over the course of a person’s medical history, a decade away from closing a practice is a heartbeat on a chart.
The February “Health and Wellness” edition of Allegany Magazine spotlights the Physicians Assistant program at Frostburg State University – an intensive course of study that trains health care professionals in the local area.
“These are people who upon graduation will be fully trained medical professionals. Physicians Assistants are also eligible to open their own general practices. Some PAs have even decided to be mobile and make house calls,” says Beth Smolko, director, of the department of PA medicine at Frostburg State University.
Travis Miller is one of the local students in the program and a photo of him – taken by photographer Karen Morgan – was picked for the February 2021 cover of Allegany Magazine.
“Our mission is to serve the underserved and help someone with their health. To go into this, you have to have the right heart and be of the right mindset,” Miller – a 2012 Fort Hill High School graduate -- told the magazine. “Staying here and making a life and a career here is all about the people you will meet. It’s all about forming those relationships. I would say most of us in the program are local and want to stay local. I want to stay local.”
“They pretty much eat, sleep, study and work together once they get into this program. And they go out into the field together,” Smolko said. “PAs become fully formed medical professionals who can do the same duties as doctors. There is a lot of misunderstanding about what PAs do and can do – we are generalists who have the ability and mobility to go from one need to the other.”
In addition to the Physicians Assistant program cover story, the February edition of Allegany Magazine – a sister publication to the Cumberland Times News – includes a variety of columns and features written by area specialists regarding health and wellness.
“We asked some of our area professionals for tips on how best to ease back into making sure we are in control or at least aware of our own health this year,” said Shane Riggs, Allegany Magazine’s managing Editor. “And so in February, we have tips for cardio health, mental health awareness, yoga, meditation, men’s health issues, preventative health, even eye and dental We talk about how food, color, music, and even how you decorate your house impact your well being”
Those contributors include Matthew Allaway, Carolyn Bond, Mike Browning, C.J. Cangianelli, Ed DeWitt, Rommel Gonzaga, William Hand, Heather Lancaster, Marianne Lasher, Carey Moffat, Michael Summerfield, and SeraBeth Weaver
There is also a special section that commemorates African American History Month in a story by contributor Sidney Thomas.
Allegany Magazine is available by subscription. Single copy sales are sold at 50 retail partners in the area.