By Damon Markiewicz

Springfield College East Campus enhances the academic experience for so many students and faculty members, and for members of the physician assistant program, the adventures of conquering the challenge course activities have become an annual tradition, and a staple event during national “Physician Assistant Week” each October.

“The Springfield College PA program has a long-standing annual tradition of spending the day enjoying East Campus together,” said Springfield College Physician Assistant Professor Roxanne Sprague. “Both the students and faculty members always look forward to this experience. It is a day to relax, have fun, and to face team building challenges outside of the classroom.”

The PA’s visit to East Campus allows for the students and faculty to step out of their comfort zones a bit, in a safe and supportive environment. The bonding that occurs during the morning has an immediate impact on all attendees.

“That particular morning in October at East Campus is a very special day for our program,” said physician assistant major Ryan Pelton, class of 2023. “Faculty and students get to enjoy what East Campus has to offer, including the challenge course, and the beautiful scenery, all while sharing smiles and developing better relationships with classmates and colleagues.”

Following their trip to East Campus, students and their families get ready for a very special ceremony that same afternoon, a signature milestone in the academic career of a PA major, the prestigious White Coat Ceremony.

The White Coat Ceremony commemorates the formal presentation of the white lab coat for physician assistant students as they begin working with patients in hospitals. The lessons learned at East Campus run parrarlel to the learning moments along the journey of each PA student earning their white coat.

“Overcoming the challenges faced at East Campus symbolizes the accomplishment of making it through the hardest semester of the PA program, and receiving that white coat,” added Pelton. “The lessons learned during the activities at East Campus very much help us during our experiences we learn when becoming a PA.”

The physician assistant experience is just one example of academic programs taking advantage of the purposefully designed experiential learning opportunities at East Campus. The different adventure programs at East Campus can only be found at Springfield College, and they are options known as the most valuable resource for team-building, managerial training, and goal-oriented growth.

“East Campus has many other colleges reaching out and visiting our site to participate in our team building programs,” said East Campus and Outdoor Programs Director Ben Taylor. “These programs are designed to bring students together in a way that prepares them to work in a professional setting that benefits them from a team approach. This is one of the strengths of Springfield College, having access to programming like this in-house.”