Bindi Patel had no idea when she opened the journal of the American Association of Physician Assistants (AAPA) that she would see her own smiling visage on the AAPA’s ad for PA Week.

PA Week is an annual effort by the AAPA to promote a better understanding of the growing role of physician assistants in the medical profession.

Patel, a 2012 graduate of the physician assistant program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, said she had no idea her face was going to be the on the posters that the AAPAs used to advertise PA week.

Patel’s involvement in the campaign dates back to her time as a student at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. While in her final year of the physician assistant program, she traveled with classmates and Kevin Lohenry, PhD, PA-C, director of the physician assistant program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, to Washington DC.

There, they met with the faculty and staff of the AAPA to learn more about the organization’s mission of raising the profile and understanding of physician assistants.

They also met with several members of the US Congress to discuss the importance of helping physician assistant students receive funding for their education and assistance with loan repayment.

Many months after that trip, the AAPA got in touch with several Keck School of Medicine of USC former PA patients, including Patel, to see if they could photograph them at work. Six months ago, they visited Patel at her office and  took the photo that has made Patel this year’s poster child of PA Week.

“I was surprised as anyone,” said Patel. “But I’m happy if it helps raise awareness about our profession.”

— By Hope Hamashige