New Faculty Announcement

The Augsburg PA faculty recently welcomed Amanda Perkins onboard as she switches over to a full-time role within the program.  With her change over to full time, Amanda will split her time between the academic and clinical phases of the program. Amanda Perkins first joined the Augsburg PA while filling in during a sabbatical. Amanda worked full time as a clinical pharmacist within the Medication Therapy Management (MTM) program at HealthPartners St. Paul Wabasha Clinic. Over the past year, Dr. Perkins has taught the pharmacotherapy course to first year students. When she is not busy in clinic or teaching, Dr. Perkins enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with family and friends. Recently, she welcomed a new addition to her family – a bernedoodle puppy named Lucy.

What do you find the most rewarding part of teaching?

“Developing the relationships with students and then knowing they will become her peers is a rewarding aspect of teaching.”

What piece of advice do you have for PA students?

“This is more advice for life, although I think it applies in school as well: Look at everything as an opportunity. You never know where an opportunity will present itself or who you will meet that may be your next employer.  Also, stay flexible. Your career goals will change and it’s ok. Listen to your heart.”

What is one piece of advice do you tell your patients?

“The medicine only works if you take it.”

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Perkins on her new position!


Application Advice from PA Faculty

As thousands of students submit their applications for the current CASPA cycle, faculty at Augsburg PA Program have suggestions and reminders to keep in mind! Take their advice to heart as they all have been in your shoes.

Trent Whitcomb is a clinical phase faculty member who returned to Augsburg PA after a few years away. Trent is a graduate of Rosalind Franklin University of Health Sciences / The Chicago Medical School. His three tips to follow are:

  1. Do not, under any circumstances, ever refer to a PA as a Physician’s Assistant. My license to practice, NCCPA board certification, and diploma all state “Physician Assistant”. Use of the apostrophe tells admissions committee members that you haven’t done your research.
  2. Have several people review the essay portion of your CASPA application as well as any supplemental applications that are program specific.
  3. Research the programs you are applying to and know why you are applying for each program.

Vanessa Bester is our Associate Program Director who has been in PA education since 2007. She graduated from University of Florida’s PA program and came to Augsburg from the University of Washington. She advises prospective students to remember the following:

  1. Most people applying to PA school have excellent grades, want to help people, and have some clinical experience. So what is going to make the faculty reviewing your application remember you? Think about: How do you align with the program’s mission? Why do you care?
  2. As an interviewer, I ask: As a human being, when I meet you, could I see myself trusting you with my loved ones’ lives?

Program Director Alicia Quella graduated from the University of Iowa Physician Program and has worked in PA education for many years. Dr. Quella urges students to be yourself! We don’t want you to say something you think we want to hear. In doing this, be sure you do not copy our mission statement; instead think of how you align with our mission and how you demonstrate it.

Professor Eric Barth has been with the Augsburg PA program since 2008 and knows what it takes to get into PA school. He completed his physician assistant training at Trevecca University and University of Nebraska, Omaha.

  1. First, all applicants need to understand and articulate that becoming a PA is about providing genuine care for other people. There is no room for selfishness or ego.
  2. Secondly, for re-applicants, avoid recycling applications.  We all want to know what the you have done to improve your chances over the prior year.  In addition, I think it’s a sign of maturity to articulate how it felt to be denied admission the prior year.
  3. Last is to always keep moving towards their goal of becoming a PA.  Take or retake a class, get more patient care experience, go on a mission trip, job shadow, anything to improve your chances.

Professor Jenny Kluznik is alumni of the Augsburg PA program and came back as faculty and our academic coordinator. She advises “candidates to spend quality time on developing their personal statement and other essays required on an application for PA school. The personal statement and essays are the pieces of an application where the individuality of an applicant shows through. Applicants should take time to write these and fully represent their talents, goals, and background experience. Take time to write, rewrite, get feedback, and proofread.”

We wish you the best of luck as you all pursue your PA education!

Highlights from Annual 5K

Every year the Augsburg PA Program hosts an annual 5K run benefiting local organizations around the community. Participants are encouraged to bring non-perishable food donations in order to earn raffle tickets. It was a very successful year as 78 participants turned out for the event. A wide variety of companies donated prizes to be raffled off at the end of the race!

The non-perishable food items gathered this year were donated to Augsburg’s Campus Cupboard. Campus Cupboard is a food shelf run by and for Augsburg students. The Cupboard is run by volunteers and hours are often variable in the summer; however, during the academic school year, it is open 5 days a week. The free food shelf was founded 5 years ago as a joint venture between the Fighting Poverty at Augsburg special interest group and the Creating an Inclusive Campus conference. Donations from the 5K totaled 130 lbs! Janet Nguyen, of the Campus Cupboard, noted this will keep the cupboard fully stocked for the summer months as well as into the fall semester!

A special thank you to all the donors that partnered with us this year:

Tin Whiskers Brewery
Guthrie Theatre
R.F. Moeller Jeweler
Surly Brewery
Minnesota Twins
Theatre in the Round
Minnesota Lynx
St. Paul Saints
Kwik Trip
Aveda Body & Sol Salon and Spa
Commodore Restaurant
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Three Rivers Park District
TRUCE Juice Shop
Wild Mountain Taylors Falls Recreation Area
The LOOK Salon

Augsburg PA Student Receives HPSP Scholarship

headshot of rachel gratzRachel Gratz, PA-S2, has a lot to celebrate and look forward to in 2019! She recently found out she is one of 19 students being awarded the 2018 Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP) from Veterans Affairs. Veterans Affairs gives out the scholarship with the hopes of increasing the supply of PAs within the VA but also for the nation. Across the country, over 800 students applied for education support while also making a commitment to serve for two years as a PA with the VA.

Everyone has their own story to pursuing a career as a PA. For Rachel, she has always been dedicated to doing things for others. From a young age, she was volunteering anywhere she could and even donating her allowance to sponsor a girl in Brazil. Her passion evolved over the years as she worked in nursing homes, hospice care, assisted living and mental health. “The accumulation of these experiences and my degree in Biology ultimately led me on the journey to the PA profession,” says Rachel.

Continue reading “Augsburg PA Student Receives HPSP Scholarship”

Master’s Projects

As we near the summer semester, second year students in the Class of 2019 are preparing to start their Master’s Projects. This opportunity allows them a choice to pursue a topic of interest to them. They may direct their own research and develop a paper based on a specific research question.

Students may also elect to complete a course within Augsburg University’s Master of Arts Leadership, Masters in Business Administration or Masters in Music Therapy departments. Our PA students also have the chance to participate in a range of experiential learning courses within  local and international communities. During the 2017 summer course, students could be seen in China, Nicaragua, local community clinics and at summer camps volunteering their time while learning about current healthcare issues.  Continue reading “Master’s Projects”

Excuse Our Mess

excuse our remodeling mess

The PA Program is excited to announce that our construction on new classrooms will begin soon! We are going to be holding regularly scheduled classes in Northwestern 230 for the week of February 5th. Starting February 12th, all scheduled classes will be held in Olson Campus Center. Please be sure to pay attention to signs so you know where to go!

Classroom Renovations Spring 2018

The Physician Assistants Studies program will begin renovations on two of our classroom spaces during the spring semester. We are excited about this opportunity to design and innovate new learning spaces for our students. The renovations will allow for greater room and flexibility to engage in cooperative group learning activities and discussions. This enlarged space will be especially helpful as we continue to welcome increased class sizes in the years ahead.

While the construction is taking place, staff and faculty will be remaining in their respective offices at Northwestern Hall. Students will be temporarily attending their classes in Olson Campus Center. Currently, the program’s exam room is located at Olson Campus Center. The specific start and end date of the construction is yet to be determined. Please pay attention to signs on campus directing visitors to appropriate meeting spaces. As more information is made public, we will keep the program page and Facebook page updated.

On behalf of faculty, staff and students, we appreciate your patience as work through this process. We can’t wait for you to see the finished project!

Year in Review

About this time every year, we all reflect back on all that has happened in the past year. We have had quite a few changes, additions and accomplishments in 2017! This year we would like to share our milestones with all of you:

The department faculty and staff grew! Vanessa Bester joined us in July as new Associate Director and Assistant Professor. Katelyn Waalen started in August as a clinical lead specialist. Amanda Perkins permanently took over pharmacotherapy this fall and Trent Whitcomb joined our faculty this fall.

We were also excited to welcome a new Dean of Professional Studies earlier this spring! Dean Monica Devers oversees the graduate, adult graduate and traditional undergraduate professional studies programs. Before deciding to come to Augsburg, Monica was the first dean at the School of Health and Human Services at St. Cloud State University. She is trained in speech-language pathology and has worked for the University of Minnesota as well as Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Program Director Alicia Quella won a fellowship through AAPA-PAEA for research on trends with new PA graduates and their job placements. This is the first year of the fellowship and we are excited about what her research will find! Watch the video where Director Quella talks more in-depth about her research.

Skye Peltier, an alumnae from class of 2005, won the CARE award from the American Thrombosis and Hemostasis Network. With her award, Skye intends to use the power of real-world data in the ATHNdataset to further research in opioid use in hemophilia patients.

Every year our students participate in a wide-range of volunteering activities. Over the course of the year, we clocked 34.5 hours of service. Some of our favorite community partners are Ronald McDonald House, Feed My Starving Children, and Second Harvest Heartland! During PA Week alone, student volunteered almost every day of the week.

students at second harvest heartlandgroup at Ronald McDonald House

The PA program partnered with the Augsburg Men’s and Women’s Hockey teams for a stuffed animal toss. A total of 100 stuffed animals were donated to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.

Augsburg PA students secured the title of Challenge Bowl Champions as well as second place!

In December, the program held it’s twenty-first commencement ceremony at Hoversten Chapel on Augsburg main campus. Twenty-seven graduates completed their formal training and are now preparing for their certification exams. We can’t wait to see where they go!

We will shortly be under-going a remodel of our classrooms and are excited about the new learning environments for our current cohorts and the ones to come. Stay-tuned for more information about our upcoming remodel!

21st Master of Physician Assistant Studies Graduation

On Saturday, December 2nd, students of the twenty-first Master of Physician Assistant Studies class graduated at Hoversten Chapel. These are the first students to graduate under the new Augsburg University name. Our newest alumni join a network of over 500 peers who completed their graduate training at Augsburg.

Julia Curry spoke to her fellow graduates about their accomplishments so far and the learning that still lies ahead in their professional career. Lydia Bruenjes presented the Clinical Instructor of the Year award to Richard Burris, PA-C. Mr. Burris has been a long-time preceptor for our program. We are grateful for his many years of partnership and nurturing future PAs.

Robert H Carlson, PA-C, was the guest speaker for the twenty-first commencement ceremony. Carlson noted that it was fitting to be speaking at this ceremony as he was chosen as the student speaker for the inaugural commencement ceremony in 1997. He is an alumnus of our program and had wise-words to share with the class. In addition to the MPA students will have at the end of their name, he urged them to add this acronym as well: POEM. P stands for passion, O for open, E for empathy and M for mentor.

The staff and faculty congratulate the class of 2017 on this milestone! We are excited to call you a peer. We wish you the best of luck as you prepare for your final certifications and your new chapter as a Physician Assistant.

Adjunct Faculty Wins CARE Award

Skye Peltier MPH, PA-C, has been awarded $50,000 to research opioid use in hemophilia patients. The award comes from The American Thrombosis and Hemostasis Network (ATHN) which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by bleeding and clotting disorders. ATHN’s mission is to use technology to secure data, advance knowledge, and transform care. This organization presents research opportunities to nurses, social workers and other members of the hemophilia treatment center interdisciplinary care team by way of the CARE award. Upon winning the CARE Award, Skye will be able to have the opportunity to use the power of real-world data in the ATHNdataset to further her research.

Skye is an alumnae from our 2005 graduating class of Physician Assistant Studies. She returned to Augsburg ten years later to join our faculty and help educate the next generation of PAs. Currently working for both Children’s Minnesota Hematology Oncology and the Center for Bleeding and Clotting Disorders at the University of Minnesota, Skye has the unique role of assisting young adults transition their care.

Congratulations to Skye on her award!