Physician Assistant awarded for international mission

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Updated: 6/07/2013 5:26 am
A soccer scholarship brought Sixtus Atabong to the United States in 1995. It was the first time he had ever really left his village in Cameroon, West Africa.

"I studied and worked my way through college. Went to the Texas Tech PA program and became a physician assistant," he said.

Between patient rounds, checking out new and returning patients, and even diagnosing illness, the role Atabong plays as a PA is vital to West Texas.

"Most people don't know this but the profession, the physician assistant profession, was founded to provide accessible healthcare to people in under served or rural communities," Atabong explained.

The American Academy of Physicians Assistants works to grant recognition and growth for PA's.

"One of the bills is one that allows physician assistants to take care of patients in hospice. To be able to write orders for patients to be transferred to hospice. Also to extend payment to PA's for medicare services," he said.

Aside from the day job, Atabong established Purpose Medical Mission, A non-profit that improves medical care conditions for people in other parts of the world. Its first project was in a village near Atabong's birthplace.

"If you see the house that Sixtus grew up in ... Still has no water, no electricity," recalled Dr. James Burke, an orthopedic surgeon and fellow missionary.

Health care facilities were just as bad. So over the years Purpose Medical Mission has brought groups of doctors, nurses, and even carpenters to improve the circumstances.

"What brought the local community was the pitiful conditions in that village and the need for improvements, particularly as it related to delivering babies and simple surgical procedures," Burke said.

With the work the team has done already, it is no wonder Atabong was awarded the 'PA Service to the Underserved' award for his efforts during the AAPA's annual conference in Washington, DC.
    
"I had to give back to the people who first helped raised me. Just to give back is my way of saying thank you to the people who have helped me in my life," Atabong said.

The story does not end here. Check back with www.MYFOXLUBBOCK.com for more on Purpose Medical Mission next week.
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