For the Palmer-Johnson family of Lakeland, Florida, the UF School of Physician Assistant Studies features prominently in its collective past and also its present and future.
Nearly 30 years to the day after Brian Palmer and his late former wife, Lee Berkowitz-Palmer, graduated from UF as PAs in 1979, their daughter, Jillian Johnson, completed the same program at the UF School of Physician Assistant Studies in 2009. All three have served their Lakeland community as PAs for years and credit their UF training for equipping them with the knowledge and skills to impact patients.
Brian Palmer says he and his family want to give back to the institution that provided them with so many opportunities by establishing the Palmer-Johnson Family PA Scholarship Fund.
“PA school can be quite a financial burden on students,” Palmer says. “The majority of these students are not going directly from their undergraduate years to this program. Many of them have careers and families and other life experiences. I thought it would be helpful to contribute to their education and help with that burden.”
Palmer works with his daughter in the emergency department of Lakeland Regional Health. Johnson calls her parents “pioneers of the PA profession” and role models for many in their community and beyond. She says the scholarship, which has not yet been awarded to its first students, will ensure the legacy her parents created continues to expand to future generations of PAs.
“Our family has always had a genuine sense of gratitude and appreciation for being given the opportunity to be PAs,” Johnson says. “It’s allowed us to participate in a great profession and to truly make a difference. To give others a similar opportunity through education is very near and dear to our hearts.”