A quick scan of the career path of Deanna Bridge Najera ’14 and it’s no surprise The Baltimore Sun named the physician assistant to their 25 Women to Watch: best in advocacy, business and health list. The graduate of Shippensburg University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program works in the emergency department at MedStar Montgomery Medical, the Carroll County Health Department in the reproductive health program and works on an as-needed basis as a psychiatric provider for Shippensburg University, Gettysburg College and True North Wellness Services.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Najera served a yearlong term as president of the Maryland Academy of Physician Assistants. In this role she worked to push state lawmakers to see the value of and utilize physician assistants in the emergency COVID-19 response.

For Najera, her work is about serving the patients and the systems that support them.

“I enjoy the challenges and successes of helping people on an individual level while also working to make changes on a broader system level,” she explained.

She credits her time at Ship as being instrumental in this approach.

“The program helped me to not only treat people presenting with a psychiatric issue, but also better support and understand the outside factors that may be contributing to their overall health and wellness. It also broadened my own self-exploration as it relates to privilege and bias in health care,” said Hess.

And it wasn’t just the curriculum at Ship that made an impact in her approach, but the example set by the faculty in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.

“This is an incredibly high caliber program with faculty that genuinely care about the students while impacting the delivery of mental health care on a state, national and international level.”

Check out Deanna in the Baltimore Sun.