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Meet our Students, Graduates, and Preceptors

Ann Davis.jpg
A Career in Advocacy

Congratulations to Ann Davis, 1979 CHA/PA grad, on her retirement this year from her position as the AAPA (American Academy of Physician Assistants) Vice President of Constituent Organization Outreach and Advocacy. Preceding her 24 years at AAPA, Ann also worked as a pediatric PA in California & Arizona, and spent time as a CHA/PA Faculty member.
Ann’s roots in her medical career began in a small northern Colorado town called Sterling where she was a full-time student at the local community college. In Sterling she worked as a nurse’s aide on medical/surgical services, in a level one nursery, and in post-partum service. Ann realized at that time that she did not come from a family of physicians and found it challenging to wrap her head around the financial and academic burdens that came with medical school. Describing the PA profession as being invented exactly for her, Ann found a home in the CHA program which enabled her to pursue the career she desired in Pediatrics.
Like other early CHA grads, Ann is familiar with participating in many “firsts.” A couple examples are that she was the first PA in Flagstaff, Arizona and also the first woman to serve as President of the Arizona State Association of PAs. Ann hopes that the legacy she has left in her career prior to retirement had a positive impact on the state laws governing PA practice and consequently improving care for their patients.

Ted.JPGAlumni Receives AAPA Award

An accomplished member of the PA community, Ted Ruback (CHA/PA class of 1979) has recently been selected as the recipient of the AAPA Eugene A. Stead Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award for 2019. Retired in 2016, Ted has had a long history in PA education with achievements spanning from Founding Director of the first PA program in Oregon at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) PA program to PAEA advocacy, –including serving as President of the Board. He was also involved in the development of CASPA & Chair of the CASPA advisory committee, Chair of AAPA’s Education Council, site visits for ARC-PA, Chair of the PA Committee of the Oregon Medical Board, and many other invaluable contributions to the profession.

Self-described as always having been interested in a medical career and specifically pediatrics, Ted’s extensive PA journey was established at a career fair in 1975 where he learned of the profession and the CHA/PA program specifically. Attending with a “junior partner” as his mentee through the “Partners” program, which connects Colorado youth to adult mentors, Ted unexpectedly discovered his own career match. After deciding CHA/PA aligned perfectly with his professional goals, he applied to the program and this year marks his 40th year as a Physician Assistant. Following his graduation in 1979, Ted’s career began by working for a pediatrician in a small rural Washington State multidisciplinary clinic. He then moved on to work at a large HMO in Atlanta, Georgia where he also started his academic ventures by guest lecturing for the Emory PA program.

As an integral part of the development of PA education with contributions spanning nationally, Ted describes his most gratifying moment to be his time as Founding Director of the OHSU PA Program. During his 22 year tenure at the school, he enriched the lives of 576 graduates and the OHSU PA Program was listed by US News & World Report as among the top 10 PA programs in the nation in its very first year of eligibility. Having touched the lives of so many providers himself, Ted reminisces on his own role models from his time in PA school: “Throughout my entire career I have benefited from the teachings of my early mentors and role models. I recall as if it were yesterday, sitting with my fellow classmates on the floor of Henry Silver’s office listening to his every word while he generously shared “pearls” of wisdom with us.”

Celebrating 50 years of caring for our communities this year, CHA/PA congratulates Ted on receiving this award from AAPA and thanks him for his contributions to our program legacy.

CHA/PA ALinsey Weller pic.jpglum & Ally: Linsey Weller
Linsey Weller is an alumni, preceptor, and well established ally to the CHA/PA Program. Involved in many areas including guest lecturing for our PA students, facilitating small group clinical discussions, and assisting in admissions interviews, she is a long-standing partner in cultivating the education of our students and shaping the future of the PA profession in Colorado. Currently serving as a Pediatric Hospitalist for Children’s Hospital Colorado, her work days are also a dynamic mix of responsibilities including caring for healthy newborns, complex medical inpatients, and most recently- coordinating PA students for the Yellow Team of the hospital medical wards.
Before taking the dive into PA school, Linsey worked as a research assistant in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati. It was here that she was co-author to a publication in the Arthritis and Rheumatism Journal of the American College of Rheumatology. It was also at this position that she learned of the PA profession and decided to return to Colorado upon acceptance to the CHA/PA Program. Linsey states “I knew that the PA profession was for me because I value the connection with people and every encounter is a valuable connection and a chance to educate another person to better themselves or their children.”
As a fresh CHA/PA graduate in 2005, her first position was working at Clinica Campesina in family medicine for 3 years, however she knew her heart was calling her to pediatrics. Following her first position, she moved to Advanced Pediatric Associates in Aurora, CO where she subsequently spent 9 years cultivating and developing her skills as a PA caring for infants, toddlers and adolescents. Linsey expresses that she hopes to be perceived by her patients as a friendly face, a close listener to their concerns, and an active participant in their medical decision-making processes.
As a self-described life-long learner, Linsey explains that she combats the inevitable plateaus reached in any career by challenging herself to “be more” and staying motivated to keep learning. This attitude of consistently challenging herself and breaking new ground is apparent in her current position where she was hired as the first PA in the Division of Hospital Medicine at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She hopes her legacy will leave a trail that makes hiring a PA a point of pride for the medical community as a whole.

Stephanie Shea1.jpgChildren's Hospital Colorado Pediatric Neurology Advanced Practice Provider
An accomplished member of our CHA/PA alumni family, Stephanie Shea is a Physician Assistant currently working in Pediatric Neurology at the Children’s Hospital Colorado Pediatric Neurofibromatosis Clinic as an Advanced Practice Provider (APP). Having been with the department for the past 8 years, her responsibilities span from the outpatient clinic and inpatient service to the procedure clinic for lumbar punctures (LPs). Her busy days are filled with administering intrathecal medications for spinal muscular atrophy as well as diagnostic LPs for pediatric patients. Having stepped into a leadership role at the clinic, she has also started to participate in outreach clinics on the Western Slope and some telemedicine as well.

Before attending PA school, Stephanie was always drawn to neuroscience and medicine. After studying Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory University, she struggled with which career path to pursue, but ultimately her love for medicine led her to the CHA/PA program and her current journey as a PA.  And a journey it has been… In 2012 due to a bike accident, she suffered from several broken vertebra in her neck and back. Stephanie describes the experience as “a very challenging time that taught me a lot about myself and my network of support.” Fortunately, after taking a short-term disability leave of 6 months, she was able to return to work with a new perspective having been a patient on the other side of healthcare.

Drawing from this new perspective, Stephanie describes the most rewarding part of her work as a provider to be caring for patients. Her experience working with the research team for an intrathecal drug, Spinraza, to treat Spinal Muscular Atrophy has also given her a unique front row seat to see spectacular progress in her patients. Since the drug has been approved, she has enjoyed the privilege of having the ability to make a difference in the lives of pediatric patients and their families who previously had very limited options. 

As the lead APP in Neurology, the legacy she hopes to leave behind in medicine is through mentoring other APPs in her group and establishing a robust education and onboarding process for her fellow providers. By observing her personal experiences and continued motivation to provide the very best care for patients, the CHA/PA program takes pride in graduates such as Stephanie.

When Passion and Career Meet
After completing her Master's of Public Health, Lynsay MacLaren felt something was missing. She was looking for more experience and education in clinical medicine. Enter the CHA/PA program, she graduated from CU with her Master's in Physician Assistant Studies in 2010 and has been making an impact ever since. Lynsay started working at Whitman-Walker Health in Washington, D.C. right after graduation. At Whitman-Walker she works closely with LGBT and HIV positive patients providing primary care and works as a research clinician. Whitman-Walker is a part of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) which conducts studies on HIV and Hep C.
Lynsay was drawn to the PA profession because of her interest in studying infectious diseases and providing care to patients with HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Working with a diverse population does present challenges. Lynsay explains, “A challenge in regard to transgender care specifically is the lack of clinical studies in regard to this population. Much of what we do has no science behind it. The population is also very marginalized and can be treated [unfairly] in other medical centers so it is nice for us to be a welcoming and safe space.” Lynsay enjoys helping people and finding her niche as a PA within the research field.
Lynsay explains the impact her work has had on her life, “being a PA I have met so many people from different walks of life. I have had to learn over the years how to best deal with people with many different issues—be it mental issues, substance abuse, etc. I think that overall has changed the way I view the world and interact with people in general.”

A Career Dedicated to the Underserved
Julia Gravlin entered the Physician Assistant profession in 1986, at a time where PA positions were difficult to find.  Shortly after graduation, she sought out employment in Oakland, California, where most physicians were unfamiliar with PAs.  She had to sell herself and the profession to break through, finding that her third year of clinical experiences were a major selling point.  She ended up starting her career as a medical technologist in San Francisco where the AIDS epidemic was full blown.  After a few months, Julia began her first position in pediatric medicine working both at a migrant farm clinic near San Jose and in a pediatric practice near Berkeley.
Julia moved on to pediatric emergency medicine, working at LA County USC Medical Center.  This job ended up becoming her passion for over two decades – the USC Medical Center is an open door hospital for every uninsured and undocumented child in Southern California.  “I have been able to see some of the rarest and most fascinating cases imaginable.  I can honestly say that it never, ever got boring,” notes Julia.
She then decided to move on to the hospital-based county pediatric outpatient clinic, where she works today.  This clinic provides care to a large population of medically, socially, and economically disadvantaged children.  Julia loves that she is able to come along side of parents who are in a constant struggle to provide good care for their children.  Many of the families she works with are challenged to care for their sick children while balancing the associated medical costs and full-time jobs.
Julia reflects back to her time at CHA/PA fondly, and especially appreciates the education she received on the psycho-social aspects of pediatric medicine and on physical and sexual abuse through CU’s Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect.  This training enabled her to understand her responsibility as a provider to abused children and to work toward the best outcome for this population. 

  Blea_Rachael 01.jpgSpecialized Education in Pediatric Critical and Acute Care
Rachael Blea has known that she wanted to help others through medicine since she was a child.  She had breathing issues which resulted in numerous doctors’ visits growing up, and her primary care doctor, in particular, left a big impression on her.  She decided she wanted to emulate his sympathy and dedication in her own life.  While volunteering at Open Bible Medical Clinic in Colorado Springs, she learned about the role of PAs and was hooked.
Interestingly, Rachael pursued International Trap Shooting at the Olympic level while pursuing her undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.  She was a Resident Athlete at the Olympic Training Center from 2009-2014.  She joined the CHA/PA class of 2017 a couple years after graduation.  One of her biggest hurdles as a PA student has been balancing her family life with her studies.  Her approach has been to focus in on finding effective study methods that optimize her learning so that she had time for her husband and step-daughter.
Rachael has chosen to specialize her education by participating in the Pediatric Critical and Acute Care longitudinal experience.  This experience provides training to students in pediatric acute and critical care medicine throughout the three years of the program.  Specialized instruction and clinical experiences with critical care physicians and physician assistants occur at Children's Hospital Colorado.  This type of instruction can lead to careers in pediatric emergency rooms, intensive care units, and other acute pediatric care settings.  Rachael has grown tremendously in her knowledge of critical care physiology, treatments, and management plans with extra exposure to this field.  “It has been incredibly humbling to be part of the Pediatric Critical and Acute Care experience because it is the first one like it in the country.  The CHA/PA program did an outstanding job creating such a well-collaborated experience.”
As Rachael looks toward her graduation this spring, she plans to pursue pediatrics in some capacity.  Until then, she is gathering further exposure to various fields in her third year of clinical rotations while enjoying backpacking, mountain biking, skiing, and a day at the range when she can.

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Military Service Leads to PA School

“My deployment to Afghanistan would become the best and worst experience of my life.”  Jason Leehan had vast experience treating everything from minor issues as a cold to traumatic amputations while serving in the Army.  As a combat and flight medic, he spent time both in the U.S. and two tours in Afghanistan caring for the needs of his platoon, foreign soldiers, and local citizens.  He was commonly independently treating people in remote locations while trying to keep up with medical education.  Along the way, he encountered PAs both in his military service and while working in an ER that guided his interest in the PA profession.
Jason’s drive to be part of something bigger and caring for the sick and injured compelled him to apply to PA school and join the CHA/PA class of 2018.  Thus far, he has most enjoyed filling in his medical knowledge as a student and better understanding the application of medicine.  CHA/PA students have clinical experiences in all three years of the program.  Jason has found blending his didactic education with clinical experiences has enabled him to directly apply his education in the clinical setting each year of the program.  Additionally, students have access to the CAPE (Center for Progressing Professional Excellence), where they interact with standardized patients and high fidelity mannequins in simulation rooms.  The CAPE has increased his confidence in clinical settings.
Despite the challenge of balancing his education with his personal life, he finds time to golf, ski, hike, and take advantage of all Colorado has to offer. 
Heather Heizer pic.jpgServing Children with Infectious Disease
Heather Heizer, a 2008 CHA/PA graduate, has had an interest in healthcare as long as she can remember.  Her sister was diagnosed with Type I diabetes as an infant and her mother is a nurse, so she understood the importance of quality healthcare even as a young child.  Before joining PA school, Heather spent several years as a lab researcher at National Jewish Health working on projects associated with tuberculosis and staphylococcus.  While enjoying her research experience, Heather ultimately felt drawn to a profession with more human interaction and set her sights on PA school.
Since graduation, Heather has worked at The Children’s Hospital Colorado in the Department of Pediatric Infectious Diseases.  She has always had a passion for microbiology so this field, coupled with her love for working with children, is a perfect fit.  The patients she sees most commonly have fevers of unknown origin, osteomyelitis, brain abscesses, fever in the return traveler, post exposure prophylaxis, and a variety of other infectious etiologies.  She also precepts CHA/PA students and finds that teaching keeps her current as well as strengthens her skills.  “I try to teach the students to enjoy the journey, to have fun, and to make the most out of any learning experience they are in because ultimately, the experience is what you choose to make it.”
The field of infectious disease also presents its challenges.  Heather works with victims of sexual assault soon after the exposure.  While difficult, she feels this gives her the opportunity to “offer kindness, compassion, and some hope in extremely horrible circumstances."  Additionally, she sees children who are terminally ill or in a later stage of their disease.  Her goal with these young patients is to provide some joy and laughter while sharing a painful journey.  Heather finds that children are so resilient and uninhibited, and despite the demands, she feels honored to serve this population.
Ultimately, Heather can sum up her love of working with patients and their families through her favorite Emerson quote:   “To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

A Chinese Doctor Pursuing the PA Profession
Howard He had a lot of unique experiences before joining CHA/PA.  He attended Wuhan University in China and practiced as a medical doctor at Jingmen Hospital for several years.  After moving to the US, he completed a biotechnology master’s degree at Texas A&M, which led him to a medical researcher position at Houston Medical Center.  He enjoyed the field of research, but longed to return to clinical patient care.  Howard started to volunteer at the hospital to garner exposure to various fields, which is where he learned of the PA profession.
Howard began his PA education journey in June 2014.  He has experienced some challenges in clinic as a non-native English speaker.  It has become easier over time, but the move from China to the US with vastly different cultures and languages was difficult.  He sees his third clinical year as a wonderful opportunity to grow in his communication skills.
Howard also manages to balance his time between his family and PA school.  As a father of two boys, Jeremy and Jonathan, he has had to work hard at devoting time to both areas.  He has found tremendous support through his family as well as his classmates.   He notes, “When our class goes through a hard time, our friendships become more solid.”
Howard's father died of gastric carcinoma when he was teenager, so he is certain he would like to help people through the painful diagnosis of cancer.  He hopes to work in an oncology unit at a hospital or large clinic.

 Witowski, Sarah 43.JPGExploring the Field of Hospitalist Medicine
Sarah Witowksi initially pursued her passion for medicine by working as a clinical research coordinator with breast cancer patients.  While helping women join clinical trials at the University of Colorado, she had the opportunity to interact with a variety of health professionals.  It is through this experience that Sarah realized that she wanted to be more involved in the medical decisions of patients and that the PA route best fit her goals.
CHA/PA’s program is unique in that students start clinical rotations their first year and end in their third year with ten, one-month rotations.  During her third year as a student, Sarah spent a month rotating with an internal medicine physician.  This rotation sparked her interest in the field of hospital medicine, so she was excited to learn about the hospitalist training fellowship at the University of Colorado Hospital.
Sarah began her one-year fellowship after graduating in May 2015.  The fellowship exposes her to patients in a variety of settings from the general medicine floor to ICU, ED, and specialties such as neurology.  Sarah loves the challenge of working with patients with medical conditions that she has only learned about in class, or even conditions that she has never heard of.  The most challenging part of her position has proven to be setting up the correct care for each patient after they leave the hospital in conjunction with the case workers.  It is essential that patients receive the correct follow-up labs and appointments.  Despite the challenges, Sarah loves it.  “When I am getting ready to discharge a patient from the hospital and they give me a hug and say thank you – it makes me feel like this is where I am supposed to be.”

A Graduate's Passion for the Underserved
Austin Waskey, Class of 2013, tried to ignore his nagging desire to practice medicine.  He was teaching high school science for over four years, when he decided it was time for action.  He spent the next four years continuing to teach, while working on his PA application and prerequisite courses.  He was accepted into the Waskey Austin.jpgCHA/PA program the summer of 2010 and has never looked back.  Austin initially planned on attending medical school to practice as a family physician. Yet, after volunteering at hospitals and medical offices, he learned more about the PA profession and realized that it was a better fit for him.
The CHA/PA program offers various tracks, one of which is the CU Unite track.  The CU Unite track is designed for students who are committed to serving the uninsured and those with limited access to health care in urban areas.  Austin’s participation in the track enabled him to learn Spanish, gain exposure to underserved healthcare, and complete more clinical rotations in a family practice setting.  Additionally, he was able to interact with a community of like-minded faculty and students.
Austin has worked at the Stout Street Health Center since graduation.  He is passionate about caring for the poor and underserved and is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to care for them in that setting.  The Stout Street Health Center provides primary care to homeless adults and children.  This population tends to have a very high rate of mental illness, substance abuse, and childhood trauma.
Austin especially values the integrated team of providers at Stout Street.  He works with a doctor, nurse, dental hygienist, behavioral health provider, and psychiatrist.  CHA/PA’s mission is in action with a graduate passionate to serve in an underserved setting.  “As a PA student, I learned that I am drawn to helping the poor and underserved.  I find it fulfilling and exciting.  I have never been bored at work.  Never.”
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Balancing Family and PA School
“Don’t let anything hold you back.”  That is the advice that Geoff Slater, Class of 2015, would give to individuals considering PA school.  He has had additional challenges on his time over the last three years that many PA students have not – two beautiful little girls.  Balancing family with PA school can be tough, but his experience testifies that it can be done.  Geoff goes to the mountains most weekends and spends a lot of time with his kids, including nightly dance parties with his daughters before bedtime.
In addition to his family, a major source of support for Geoff has been his fellow classmates.  He notes, “I would not have made it this far without them.  We are our own built in support system.”  Students form tight connections during their three years at CHA/PA, and beyond.  Geoff had the opportunity to work with fellow students in an area of special interest to him, healthcare improvement.  Geoff and classmate Karen Wilson served on the steering committee for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Open School.  The Open School focuses on empowering students to be agents for change in healthcare.  Geoff especially appreciates that the IHI examines healthcare as a system, and works to address flaws in the system, rather than assigning individual blame.
Geoff has set his sights on working in family medicine, internal medicine, or pediatrics.  His passion for the profession is further fueled by his sense of fulfillment as his service as a PA will help alleviate the physician shortage, especially in primary care.

 Reflections of a 2nd Year Student
Amy Buck, Class of 2016, had initially planned on a career as a physician.  It was not until her grandfather was hospitalized while she was in her undergraduate degree that she was exposed to the PA profession.  She followed up by researching the PA profession, and the associated opportunities, and decided that the PA path was for her.
 Amy has had various experiences that have solidified her passion for the underserved and rural communities.  Having grown up in a town of 250 population in Montana, she plans to practice in primary care in a rural setting after graduation.  Primary care in a rural setting will enable her to provide healthcare for a wide variety of people with a broad range of ailments.  Additionally, she has participated in a medical mission trip to Rwanda which had a profound effect on her and her heart for underserved individuals both abroad and in the U.S.
 Looking back on the last year and a half, Amy feels that the support of her classmates and faculty, her simulation experiences at the Center for Advancing Professional Excellence (CAPE), and her clinical rotations stand out as highlights of her time so far at CHA/PA.  Clinical rotations, which start in the first year of the CHA/PA program, have challenged her to both study harder and also learn about the “art of medicine”.  “Medicine is much more than examining, diagnosing, and treating patients; it is about the relationships that you foster while being a medical provider and how you help patients achieve total body wellness,” notes Amy. 
A Passion for Advocacy

Michelle Gaffaney.jpgMichelle Gaffaney was first prompted to explore the PA profession by her grandmother, an OB/GYN nurse.  The more Michelle learned about the profession, the more she was certain that the PA profession, and CHA/PA in particular, was the right path for her.  While challenged to maintain a balance between school and her personal life, she has found support through fellow students, faculty, and staff.  She notes, “The program fosters a feeling of support for one another and everyone involved only wants the best for others.  I think this is what separates our program from others across the country and has made my time here so enjoyable.”

Michelle has a passion for advocacy that she pursued long before joining the Class of 2016.  Throughout her undergraduate education, she involved herself in groups dedicated to preventing sexual assault on college campuses as well as groups that worked to protect the reproductive rights of women.  So, it was only natural that she was drawn to the LEADS track upon joining the CHA/PA program.  LEADS stands for Leadership, Education, Advocacy, Development, and Scholarship.  It is an interdisciplinary track within the School of Medicine focused on training healthcare professionals to advocate for the needs of underserved and disadvantaged patients.  This track enables Michelle to gain the knowledge she desires to advocate for patients at an individual, community, and policy level.

As part of the LEADS track, Michelle conducted a research project last summer with Mimi Chau, a CU medical student, in conjunction with a local OB/GYN doctor to evaluate the availability of emergency contraception in Colorado and Wyoming.  They collected and analyzed data on overall availability, cost, behind the counter status, and age restrictions by relentlessly contacting over 700 pharmacies in six weeks.  Michelle and Mimi have the opportunity to present their data at the National American Public Health conference in New Orleans this month and at the National Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine conference in Los Angeles in March.  Additionally, they are preparing a manuscript to publish in a national journal this year.

PA Education Leads to Research and Community Outreach
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Pam Donohue’s PA education has served as the launching point for her diverse career in research, education, healthcare, and community outreach.  Pam was initially drawn to the CHA/PA program in 1979 in part due to its emphasis on working with the underserved.  After graduation, she headed to the coast of Maine to practice in a small town.  Despite the size of the town, her experiences there were varied as it served a large geographical area and was a stabilization center for patients transported to larger facilities.  She loved the rural style of practice that was integrated into the community through home visits, community screenings, wellness education programs, and on-site coverage for area high school football games.

Pam was recruited from her job in Maine to join the step-down unit in the NICU at Johns Hopkins University.  She provided primary care to very preterm infants and long-term developmental care for NICU graduates.  After five years of this rewarding work, she became interested in clinical research.  Her first research experience was on a randomized controlled trial of surfactant for respiratory distress in preterm infants-she was hooked.  Her research has included the study of neonatal intensive care, high risk obstetrics, patient/family-provider communication and how it shapes treatment decisions, and ethical decision making in newborn and obstetrical care.

Pam did find herself limited when applying for research grants.  She was disqualified from applying for grant money as she did not have a terminal doctorate degree.  It was then that she opted to pursue her doctoral degree in Maternal and Child Health with an emphasis on research.  Pam is currently an Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an Associate Professor of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Her 31 years of experience at Johns Hopkins has also entailed educating students and community involvement.  Pam trains medical students, pediatric residents, neonatology and perinatal fellows, and masters and doctoral students in public health.  “I hope I am encouraging medical providers to practice patient and family centered care, and to conduct research in a rigorous, economical, and thoughtful way.”  Her involvement in the Pediatric Family Advisory Council as Staff Chair at Johns Hopkins enables her to interact with patients’ families, pediatric faculty, and staff to advise the Hospital administration on policies and programs to focus attention on patient and family centered care.  Additionally, Pam remains closely connected to the PA profession through her involvement with the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).  She has been a member of the AAPA Professional Practice Council for several years and just finished a three year commitment as chair of the AAPA Professional Practice Commission.

Practicing Rural Medicine

Fran Schreiber did not set out to make a career in rural medicine.  She had planned a two year stay in Cheyenne Wells, CO after graduating from CHA/PA in 1994.  Two years turned into twenty, spent at Keefe Memorial Hospital covering the ER as well as implementing a new outreach clinic and a women’s clinic.  She fell in love with rural medicine and hasn’t looked back.Fran has seen lives saved as a result of a small town having its own hospital.  She is able to care for underserved people in their own hometown, without having to travel hours for medical attention.  Additionally, a rural setting has given her a great deal of autonomy as a PA where she has covered the ER by herself, treating everything from otitis media to stabilizing a critical case of Mosaic variegated aneuploidy syndrome.Fran is passionate about the PA profession as it enables her to make a difference in others’ lives every day.  Treating the underserved throughout her career, she has traveled on multiple medical mission trips.  She has also chosen to sow into the lives of future PAs by precepting CHA/PA students for over twenty years.  “I am able to share my love of medicine and watch the students grow and learn with each new procedure and patient visit,” she notes about her time with students. Fran is continuing her work as a PA in a rural setting, now in Pagosa Springs, CO in a primary care clinic.  Her passion to work with the underserved both locally and abroad has not dimmed, as she recently returned from a medical mission trip to Guatemala.  She had the opportunity to care for people there who had not had access to healthcare for more than three months.   Fran is optimistic about the future of the PA profession.  She sees that the demand will continue to grow and that the PA profession has become widely understood and regarded within the medical field.  “No one knows the new advances in medicine, but it will be phenomenal.”

Life Experiences Lead to PA School
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There have been so many influences in John Farho’s life that have led him to PA school.  Growing up in West Africa as the son of missionaries, John learned at an early age to appreciate all he had and clearly saw all that he could give to others.  He learned independence and self-sufficiency throughout his youth as he attended boarding school over six hours away from his parents in Cote d'Ivoire starting at the age of seven.
These attributes served him well later in life as he went on to join the army and became a combat medic.  During his nine years in the army, he served two long missions in Iraq, where he cared for everything from immunizations to combat injuries for his platoon and infantry soldiers.  He consulted with MDs or PAs for knowledge or medications as needed. John sees his time as a combat medic as the ultimate shadowing experience, which crystallized his interest in the PA profession.

John’s background has also taught him to manage stress as he faces competing priorities.  This has proven especially helpful as John is married with a seven-month old daughter.  Managing a personal life and PA school is challenging for anyone, especially when a young family is involved.  His previous life experiences give him valuable perspective, and he actually feels the stress of PA school dims in comparison to previous life situations he has encountered.
As a PA student, John has found his instruction at the Center for Advancing Professional Excellence (CAPE) especially valuable. The CAPE is a full-service assessment and education center specializing in the use of standardized patients, teaching associates and simulators.  CHA/PA students spend time at the CAPE throughout the three year program.  John has found that working with actors at the CAPE to be one of the best aspects of his first year as a student.  His interactions with actors have increased his confidence for his interactions with patients in clinic.
John has clearly seen the needs that exist in developing countries first hand, but feels just as passionate about the needs right here in Denver.

My Experience in Peru
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CU-Peru is a student-run non-profit that holds trainings for community health workers in the Loreto Region of Peru. These workers live in very remote villages located off of tributaries of the Amazon.  Many of the villages are 5-18 hours by river from the nearest clinic. The villagers survive from what they farm and fish so deciding to spend the gas money to go to the clinic is not an easy decision, and often a logistical impossibility. Each village has one or two unpaid community health workers who have had limited schooling, no formal training, and get no recognition for their work. Despite this, their hunger for knowledge and desire to serve as leaders in their communities are remarkable. During my trip we held trainings for 60 community health workers, teaching a variety of subjects including first aid, women’s health, and diarrhea/respiratory illnesses. I was extremely impressed by all of the hard work they put in and how well they were able to adapt to the challenges we presented them with.

Throughout my time in the Loreto region and its villages, I also adapted to the challenges that the Amazon presented me with.  I learned to appreciate the simple joys of: taking bucket showers at the edge of the river without getting bitten by piranhas, playing card games in the light of the citronella candles to keep away the mosquitos, being greeted with fried plantains when visiting people’s homes, learning to kick the latrines before sitting down to scare out the bats, and best of all, making friends with the children who became our protectors from tarantulas threatening to fall on our hammocks as we slept. I have come back to the U.S. with a new appreciation of the situation in which the community health workers are practicing and the sacrifices they make to provide for their communities.

Mathilde Sullivan
Class of 2015


A Graduate's Integral Role in PA Leadership and Advocacy

Connie Goldgar, an ’82 graduate, has had the opportunity to put her PA education to work in various arenas, including in research, clinical settings, and education, as well as national leadership.  She first heard about the PA profession while pursuing her undergraduate education in Iowa.  Connie has a passion in particular for pediatrics, so CHA/PA was the perfect fit for her as the only PA program in the country offering additional training in pediatrics.  She looks back on her time at CHA/PA with pride, especially noting the program’s focus on social responsibility, justice, and community-orientation.
 After graduating, Connie’s first position was in a pediatric gastroenterology clinic where she gained firsthand experience of team-based medical care, which included a nutritionist, a nurse, a pharmacist, MDs, and herself.  She then transitioned to working in research in pediatric gastroenterology and genetic epidemiology.  Ultimately, she accepted a faculty position at the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program, where she is currently the Associate Director.  Connie’s professional interest in genetic epidemiology resulted in a grant to work with the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics.  The grant enabled her to work in a team to devise an interactive, case-based genetics education website for practicing PAs, PA faculty, and PA students.  Connie was awarded the Michael J. Scott Jr. MD Award in 2010, honoring her contribution to genetic education for health professionals.
 Connie is also passionate about the core mission of many PA programs – primary care to the underserved.  She misses working directly with patients as an educator, but feels she can affect more individuals by training competent, compassionate PAs.  She also has the opportunity to bring influence in her role as the PAEA (Physician Assistant Education Association) President.  Connie was initially drawn to this position based on PAEA’s involvement in advocacy.  She sees leadership as the key for the PA profession’s involvement in shaping patient care in the midst of a changing healthcare system.
 As Connie studies the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, she feels that how PAs respond is critical for the growth and ever-changing roles of PAs.  “We are a major part of the solution to what transformation is taking place.  Primary care is an ever increasing need in our country, especially with the 30+ million people that need to be absorbed into our healthcare system – and we can easily fill this need.  Our very adaptable nature and training allows us to fill needs in a multitude of settings.” 

Helping Those Most Vulnerable

Our chidren’s future and the world’s future are one,” asserted Dr. C. Henry Kempe, founder of the Kempe Center and a decades-long champion for abused and neglected children.  The Kempe Center, located on the Anschutz Medical Center campus, has been a world leader for over forty years in child abuse treatment and prevention programs.  CHA/PA graduate Cindy Tanner has aligned herself with this amazing organization for over twenty years.
As a graduate of the first CHA/PA class in 1972 consisting of nine women, Cindy was part of paving the way for so many PAs to come.  She was even unsure when she began the program if she would ever be able to practice medicine.  There were no laws in place that allowed PAs to practice medicine in CO at that time.  Cindy was able to get a job after graduation, with her first job being in a pediatric primary care setting.  She experienced a fair amount of opposition from both nurses and physicians.  Yet, over time, everyone’s roles became defined and the nurses, PAs, and physicians began working as a team.
Looking back, Cindy is amazed at the evolution of the PA profession and the various roles that PAs can now fulfill; PAs are able to function in such a broad spectrum of specialties and subspecialties.  She cannot imagine having chosen a career better suited for her.  She notes, “I have realized that I will never stop learning as long as I am a practicing PA, an aspect of the profession that I love.”
Cindy’s long-term position has been as a member of the Child Protection Team at the Kempe Center, which consists of physicians, a pediatric nurse practitioner, a social worker, and a psychologist.  The Child Protection Team is a consult group that evaluates cases where there are concerns of abuse and neglect.  Children may be patients at The Children’s Hospital Colorado or they may be referred to the Kempe Center by community physicians, law enforcement, or social services.  Cindy manages her own cases and reports abuse to appropriate agencies as needed.  As a contact person for social services and law enforcement, she provides updated medical information for children staying at The Children’s Hospital.  Additionally, she testifies as an expert witness in both civil and criminal court and shares her vast experience with medical students, residents, and PAs who rotate with her team.
As one can only imagine, there is a significant emotional toll that takes place in working with abused children.  She becomes frustrated when the system does not work as it should and children are not protected.  Yet, she finds tremendous satisfaction as well.  Her aspiration is to be someone who is there for those who cannot help themselves.  “Children are vulnerable members of our society, who often cannot speak up for themselves.  Knowing that I may have made a difference in a child’s life is incredibly rewarding,” asserts Cindy.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.  The Kempe Center is hosting numerous activities to raise awareness, educate, and garner more community support for abused and neglected children.  You can get involved and learn more at The Kempe Center website.

A Student's Motivation for PA School

Sarah Davis did not take the direct route to becoming a Physician Assistant, despite having an early interest in medicine.  One experience that had a profound impact on her was the illness of her niece, Amberlyn.  Amberlyn was hospitalized most of her short life due to biliary atresia, which is a life threatening condition in which the bile ducts inside or outside the liver do not have normal openings.  As a junior in high school, Sarah visited little 11-month old Amberlyn at Children’s Hospital in Seattle as often as she could.  Sadly, Amberlyn ultimately passed away due to complications from a liver transplant.   Witnessing the care that the health professionals provided to her niece and family further impassioned Sarah toward the medical field.
Yet, family expectations redirected Sarah to choose a different path out of high school.  She obtained an undergraduate degree in Technical Sales and a master’s degree in business with an emphasis in marketing.  After working several years as a sales representative, sales director, and a marketing manager for a publishing firm on the east coast, Sarah found herself unsatisfied.  She found outlets for her medical aspirations and desire to help the underserved where she could.  While pursuing her MBA, she chose to participate in a volunteer project that focused on expanding a non-profit healthcare micro franchise in Ghana.  Additionally, she spent time at the 4th Street Homeless Clinic in Salt Lake volunteering.
Eventually, Sarah felt it was time for a change; life was too short to not do what you love.  She opted to pursue a PA degree, rather than a MD as she had originally planned.  She felt the PA field enabled her to help others, practice the art of medicine, and engage in a lifetime of learning and challenge-without some of the downfalls of other fields.   The University of Colorado’s program interested her in particular, as it is a three year program that includes a year of rotations that provide extensive clinical experience and exposure.  She joined the Class of 2015 in the summer of 2012.
CHA/PA offers four track options, one of which is the CU-Unite track, which focuses on serving the uninsured and those with limited access to health care in urban areas.  PA, MD, and Nurse Practitioner students work in teams on various topics that provide an understanding of healthcare disparities and inequities, the multifaceted role of the healthcare provider in urban communities, and the health issues of specific populations of patients in urban areas.
Sarah chose to participate in the CU Unite track primarily based on her experiences volunteering at organizations like the 4th Street Homeless Clinic and the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.  Sarah encountered one gentleman during her time at the 4th Street Clinic who lacked consistent work, thus access to healthcare.  He had been arrested many times for drugs and had suffered the life consequences of his decisions.  Sarah found herself judging this man until she learned more about his life.  He shared with her that he was introduced to drugs at thirteen by a parent.  Sarah found herself humbled by his story and the stories of many others that she encountered.
Sarah is thriving in her first year at CHA/PA.  She has found herself challenged and pushed intellectually, and she loves it.  Yet, her favorite aspect of her time at CU has been the relationships that have developed with fellow students.  “The thing I’ve enjoyed the most is the friends I’ve met!  There are so many incredibly talented, intelligent, and great people in this program.  I’m amazed every day by their stories, experiences, and accomplishments.”

CHA/PA Graduate Serves as Program Director for a UK PA Program
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Karen Roberts graduated from CHA/PA in 2004 and spent her subsequent years practicing in family medicine in Thornton.  Karen has had a passion for the United Kingdom since she was a teenager.  She loves the history and tradition of the country, as well as the diversity and tolerance of the people.  She decided to take the leap in 2007 and moved to the UK.  Karen practices as a surgical PA and also accepted the role of Program Director for the Physician Assistant Program at St. Georges University in London in September.

The PA profession is quite different in England.  The main challenge is that PA’s are not licensed, thus they do not prescribe medicine or request imaging.  The UKAPA (UK Association of PAs) is working hard toward expanding PAs scope of practice, and Karen is optimistic that these issues will be resolved in the future.  In other ways, medical providers have much more freedom in the UK.  All residents have access to medical care; there is no charge for receiving services.  Karen loves that insurance is not a limitation.  She can focus on patient need, rather than preferred insurance medications.

As a practicing PA, Karen enjoys establishing relationships with her patients and helping them to lead healthy lives and cope with ongoing health issues.  As Program Director at St. Georges University of London, she loves being on the forefront of educating PAs that are competent, enthusiastic and caring.  Karen also is passionate about advocating for the importance of PAs within the National Health Service medical system.  She hopes to see specialty care and training programs expand in the UK over the next decade.  The number of PAs in the UK has increased from 30 when she arrived in 2007 to currently over 170.  One of the main reasons Karen moved to the UK is to grow the profession and we’re excited to have a CHA/PA grad as part of the PA movement in the UK.

The Value of Precepting

Jacqueline Sivahop, CHA/PA’s third year Clinical Coordinator, precepted students while working in a rheumatology clinic.  She found that the students’ enthusiasm for learning was infectious.  “The students came to clinic excited for the experiences we could offer them and the providers and staff were excited to teach them all aspects of medicine from physical diagnosis, injections, infusions, DEXA scans, prior authorizations, prescription refills, and much more.”

Wayne DuBois has been a CHA/PA preceptor for over fifteen years.  He is a Physician Assistant who worked in cardiology for twelve years, and currently works with Kaiser Permanente in Family Practice and Trauma.  He was initially drawn to the profession due to his desire to practice medicine as part of a team.  Wayne finds that the PA profession continues to challenge him to unravel the mysteries of life while taking care of patients and easing their worries.

As an experienced preceptor, Wayne hopes that students “try to put themselves in the patient’s place to understand what is going on with them, so that patients can ‘know how much they care’ as well as ‘care how much they know’.”  When not backpacking, cycling, or fly fishing, he also finds time to support the PA profession through legislative efforts.

Beyond the Classroom

We are six third-year CHA/PA students who chose to spend an elective month working at Hillside Health Care International (Hillside).  Hillside is located in southern Belize, situated five miles inland from the oceanside town of Punta Gorda in a village named Eldridgeville.  Each month Hillside accepts eight PA or MD students, together with three Pharmacy students, who run the clinic under the supervision of long-term medical providers.

Preparing for this trip was a long journey in itself.  We met several times with our preceptor, Dr. Dick Anstett, in order to learn about the culture of Belize, discuss common medical issues, and ponder the broader social issues related to global health care.  In addition, we were in contact with Hillside’s director months before departure and were able to actively solicit donations for medicines and equipment from the clinic’s wish list.  Dr. Anstett was right when he told us preparation for these types of trips begins a full year in advance, and we accordingly started planning early.

Through the generosity of community members and organizations here in the United States, we were able to carry down an impressive amount of medical supplies to Belize.  Among our collected donations were a doppler fetal heart rate monitor, over 300 pairs of eyeglasses, a variety of cardiovascular medicines, and an abundant supply of toothbrushes, toothpaste and fluoride varnish kits.  Additionally, the CHA/PA Silver Society donated a large portion of their proceeds from their annual silent auction to Hillside, and we felt proud and fortunate to be able to offer a monetary donation to Hillside in the name of our program and all CHA/PA students.  Needless to say, we and our donations were met with humble gratitude.

We all feel fortunate to have participated in this rotation and thank everyone who contributed to our learning and our efforts at Hillside clinic, including Dr. Dick Anstett, the Hillside staff and our student colleagues, as well as the CHA/PA program for making this rotation possible.

We would also like to thank the many donors who filled our luggage to the brim with the medications, eyeglasses, toothbrushes, fluoride varnish, and other supplies which allowed us to provide much-appreciated assistance to Hillside clinic. Our backs literally ached with the weight of your generosity.  We would like to give special thanks to the following:

  • Delta Dental
  • CHA/PA Silver Society
  • Dr. Schieber from Lintecum & Nickell, PC in Kansas for her donation of a fetal Doppler
  • Dr. Elizabeth Shick, DDS, MPH and the TCH Dental Clinic
  • Drs. John and Olinga Hargreaves, DDS
  • Dr. Andrew White, DMD
  • Bob Slonecker and  Lion’s Club of Denver
  • Dr. Anthony Knowlton, DDS
  • Dr. Peter Sonntag, DDS
Annette Schieber, Jill Lindeman, Dayna Hochevar, Valana Frohardt, Laura Smith, & Laura Kaningher

 Making a Difference One Person at a Time

"To the world you may be one person, but to the one person you may be the world.” This quote provided comfort to Kevin Bogart, a 2010 graduate, as he traveled to Kenya during his third year as a CHA/PA student. He spent a clinical rotation working in a private rural hospital and a government hospital. Ninety percent of patients he worked with were infected with AIDS and suffered the complications of the disease, such as Pneumocystis Pneumonia, Cryptococcal Meningitis, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The small medical facilities could not manage the ballooning number of patients, thus very sick patients would lay head to toe sharing twin beds.

At times he struggled to handle the severity of the medical situation he was faced with. A gentleman passed away in a crowded medical ward and the only sign of his passing was the wailing of his family. Medical personnel did not rush over; rather they kept working with the surviving patients. Death is so common, and there were other patients to save. Kevin was shocked as severely ill patients were discharged from the hospital. A western-trained Kenyan doctor noted Kevin’s reaction and provided perspective, “The patient is stable and we need beds for other sick patients.”

Kevin was only one of three European “Mzungu’s” whom he met over the three months he spent in Kenya. He walked by an orphanage every day on his way to the hospital, and just the sight of a “Mzungu” would interrupt classes as kids would scream out to him. Kevin met so many remarkable children and adults during his stay. One person of note was American Dr. John Ott who has lived and worked in Kenya for years. He became a father to numerous orphans, an ever growing problem in Kenya with over 11.6 million children orphaned by AIDS. Kevin was also touched by the community’s reaction to the orphan crisis – most families had taken in nieces, nephews, and neighbors.

Facing such overwhelming difficulties, Kevin noted, “you either close off to the world around you or you become involved and take care of the community around you." He anticipated before arriving in Kenya that he would face poverty and disease on a level he’d never seen before, which was true.  Yet, he also was pleasantly surprised by the resilience and happiness of the Kenyan people in the face of such adversities. The people were not focused on what they didn’t have, but rather on what they did. They found great pleasure in simple things such as singing while doing laundry or dancing when no one was watching.

Kevin has been able to use all he learned in Kenya as a PA at a primary care clinic at the Denver Health campus. His practice primarily serves urban underserved and uninsured patients. With a large immigrant patient population, he has conducted medical interviews in over fifteen different languages. Many patients have not had medical care for decades, and some immigrants have never seen a medical provider in their lives.  Kevin finds working with this population extremely rewarding. He continues to find inspiration in that he cannot change the world alone, but he can impact the lives of individuals.

A Graduate's Life in Alaska
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“You must be crazy!  I do not belong in Alaska.”  This was Kimberly Cray’s initial response to a suggestion by a friend that she consider working in Alaska after graduation.  Kimberly knew she wanted to leave her comfort zone and have an adventure after she graduated in May 2011.  After researching Alaska, specifically Unalaska, Kimberly realized that she had found the right destination.  Unalaska, which includes Unalaska Island and Amaknak Island, is 800 miles west of Anchorage and can only be accessed by boat or plane.  It is 110 square miles, with only a small portion of that land being developed and inhabited, and offers only 6 miles of paved roads.  As the largest fisheries port in the U.S. by volume of seafood caught, the local population includes 4000 residents that increases to 7000 during the busiest fishing seasons. 
Four months into her arrival in Alaska, Kimberly is having the experience of a lifetime.  In a typical day, she may treat a simple cold, a large fish hook impaled in someone’s hand, a heart attack, and hypothermia.   Oftentimes, patients must be medevacked off the island.  “Being able to practice pediatrics, family practice, urgent and emergency care all in one place (usually all in one day!) is truly a unique situation, especially for a recent graduate,” she notes.  Occasionally, Kimberly's position requires venturing into animal medicine.  With no full time veterinarian on the island, residents are forced to bring in their pets, mostly dogs, when crisis arises.  The clinic does the best they can to treat them and consults with a veterinarian in Anchorage as needed. 
Kimberly is pleasantly surprised at the number of great friends she has made so far in her community.  Unalaska attracts people from all around the world – Japan, Russia, Philippines, and the Lower 48.  With patients from all around the world, Kimberly is challenged to overcome many language and cultural barriers.  She feels it is very important to relate to patients on a personal level so that she can better treat them.  Life is Alaska is not without its challenges.  Kimberly has had to adjust to living in one of the rainiest places in the U.S.  The weather, number of daylight hours, and isolation can lead to “island fever.” 
All in all, Kimberly is growing and changing in a remote spot in Alaska.  She observes, “working with my patients and collagues has reinforced in my mind why I wanted to become a PA in the first place, and that is to help people.”  Want to hear more about Kimberly's experience in Alaska?  Follow Kimberly’s blog at:


A Third Year Student's Perspective

Eleanor Perry is a 5th generation Coloradoan who grew up in a small town on a Herford ranch in Carbondale.  She spent much of her formative years outdoors enjoying kayaking, skiing, sledding, and backpacking.  As a Cell & Molecular Biology major at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Eleanor initially planned on attending medical school. She learned of the physician assistant profession her junior year and changed gears. She considers choosing the PA profession the best decision she has ever made

Eleanor is in the midst of her third year at CHA/PA, rotating to a new rotation each month in various settings from hospitals to rural family practices. CHA/PA is uniq​ue in that it offers a full third year of clinical experience, rather than a two year program. She has found that working in such diverse settings has given her a broad perspective on how providers treat the variety of patients that walk in their doors. “Every month has provided me with a different set of skills and new knowledge.  All of this will only make me a better physician assistant,” she notes.  While rotations can be challenging in the fast pace and knowledge they require, rotations do afford students the opportunity to explore various fields of medicine. For Eleanor, this exposure has helped her find her passion. She has spent two rotations in hospitalist settings, a field that she wasn’t even aware of until her 3rd year at CHA/PA. Hospitalists provide medical care to acutely ill hospitalized patients.  Eleanor loves the team aspect of hospitalists as well as working with complicated patients to whom she can provide complete patient care.  

Eleanor is approaching her May graduation feeling a combination of excitement and apprehension. Leaving three years of structured life is intimidating, but she is excited to pursue her passions and hopefully find a hospitalist position after graduation.

A Graduate Gives Back to CHA/PA Through Precepting
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Brian Englund became interested in the PA profession while working in Radiology at The Children’s Hospital.  His passion was always working with children, and he decided at that time that he wanted to do more and be more.  Brian reenrolled in college, and ultimately was admitted to the Class of ’97 at CHA/PA. Brian has been a Pediatric PA at Greenwood Pediatrics for over 14 years, where he currently precepts 24-28 students each year.  He had some great preceptors as a student, which drove him toward precepting after graduation. He is passionate about being the best teacher he can, and to help the students see the need for preceptors in the PA profession.

Brian strongly believes that a great preceptor is defined by three important tools.  The first is to educate the students, which requires staying current on new medical topics and teaching methods.   Secondly, preceptors must observe.  Students need to be viewed in action so that they can be provided with insight into their performance of exams and patient interaction.  Lastly, feedback is essential to the students’ growth.  They need to know what makes them intriguing PA’s, so they can try to reproduce those moments of brilliance. 

Preceptors are a crucial component of the PA program at CHA/PA.  Precepting is a way of giving back and sowing into the next generation of PA’s.  Providers (PA/MD/DO/NP) can earn Continuing Medical Education hours and the opportunity to become Clinical Faculty at the University of Colorado.  Contact David Eckhardt, one of our Clinical Coordinators, if you would like more information on precepting with CHA/PA: David.Eckhardt@ucdenver or 303-724-1347.

​Combining Law and Medicine to Benefit Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Thomas Stewart hopes his patients and clients perceive him as a “trusted resource who will work diligently to see that they receive top-quality care.”  As a CHA/PA program graduate (Class of '99), Thomas has had the opportunity to weave together his previous career as a lawyer with his interest in medicine.   He has utilized his medical training to benefit individuals with Multiple Sclerosis.  Thomas practices at Metro Community Provider’s Network, where he created a care model for people with MS who are uninsured or underinsured.

Thomas’ passion for those dealing with MS includes tackling the federal disability application process.  MS sufferers deal not only with the symptoms of MS itself, but also the common ramifications of the disease such as loss of income, loss of access to care, and at times, homelessness.  Nationally, only 35% of disability claims result in the award of benefits.  Thomas works closely with clinicians and specialists to provide the necessary medical base to his clients to increase those odds to 90%.

Additionally, he finds time to collaborate with community-based neurologists and researchers to conduct clinical trials.  One of which involves an agent intended to promote remyelination, and possibly axonal growth.  These developments would profoundly affect those with MS and other neurological diseases.   We are grateful that Thomas Stewart chose the PA profession and graduated from our program, and we are confident that MS patients feel the same.

A Student's Passion for the Hispanic Community

Veronica Carrillo is part of the Class of 2014. As one of four children, she grew up in Lamar, CO by parents who were born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. in their early teens. Veronica is the first person in her family to receive a four-year degree, so her family is extremely proud of her for pursuing her Master’s through CHA/PA. Veronica’s interest in the medical profession began when her sister was born while Veronica was a teenager. Being part of the doctor’s visits with her Mother throughout the pregnancy peeked her interest in the type of work and care health professionals offer. Veronica is very close to her younger sister, and this relationship drives her to become the type of PA that will have a positive impact on the lives of expectant mothers and their children.

While pursuing her undergraduate degree in Biology at CU Colorado Springs, Veronica initially planned on going to medical school. In her junior year, she was exposed to the Physician Assistant profession and realized that it was a better fit. Her adjustment to the CHA/PA program has been a challenge after a year break from school. Yet, she truly enjoys the program due of the atmosphere the faculty and staff create. Everyone is encouraging and helpful, wanting all students to succeed.

Veronica is excited for what the future holds. She is making lifelong friends and colleagues during her time at CHA/PA, and she looks forward to having the opportunity to be a role model for others upon graduation. She specifically would like to focus attention on the Hispanic community, encouraging a healthy lifestyle and higher education.

​Costa Rica's Impact on a CHA/PA Student
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My best memories are with my host family.  They were extremely hospitable and gracious to speak slow and teach me about their culture and lifestyle.  We often had salsa dancing parties in the living room! Even though I wasn’t able to express myself verbally all the time, I realized that sometimes the best communication involves action accompanied with a smile of understanding.  I hope that this carries over to my practice as a future PA!​

Sarah Wong, Class of 2013