Published on January 17, 2023 by Eric Holsomback  
In August, Samford’s Department of Physician Assistant Studies began working with Children’s Harbor family service center to host an event each month for the kids and families at Children’s of Alabama.

“Many families must balance their jobs, lives and other children while taking care of a sick child,” said John Hurt, assistant professor and director of academics and curriculum in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. “Our idea was to go and provide one night of fun and entertainment to the kids and families just to maybe take their minds off things, even if just for a few hours.”

The second-year students typically have between five and 15 families drop by to attend fun, themed events such as a luau and Halloween.

Hurt originally came up with the idea during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I learned of Children’s Harbor through my church and investigated what the PA program could do to help those families,” he said. “I have had a sick child and understand that is such a tough situation to deal with. Many families must balance their jobs, lives and other children while taking care of a sick child.”

The second-year students were very excited to be able to work with Children’s Harbor.

“It reminds us of our purpose as future health care providers,” PA student Ally Salchert said. “The interaction we have with the children has put into practice our people skills that are so important in health care.”

It has also allowed the students to personally connect with children and families and demonstrate empathy as they navigate the very difficult and real challenges of a childhood illness.

The monthly events will continue next year with a new group of second-year students. Hurt hopes to continue this partnership for many years to come.
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.