Program News

April 6, 2017

Augsburg PA Graduate, Tracy Keizer, Featured on AAPA Website

Tracy Keizer
Tracy Keizer, PA-C, earned a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Augsburg College in 2007.  Today, Keizer works in behavioral health at Regions Hospital, both in clinical practice and as director of a psychiatric fellowship program for PAs and NPs — a fellowship that she herself completed earlier in her career.

Recently, Keizer was featured on the American Academy of PAs website in an article about PAs in the mental health field.

To learn more, read the article on

March 21, 2017

Augsburg PA Students are the 2017 MAPA Challenge Bowl Champs

As part of the Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants Spring CME conference, students from PA programs across the state competed in the annual state Challenge Bowl. Four teams consisting of academic and clinical phase PA students from Augsburg competed on Friday, March 17th.

The Augsburg team named the Myoclonic Jerks consisting of PA students Jessica Puchalski (Class of 2017), Claire Maccani (Class of 2018), and Zachary Stevens (Class of 2018) won in the final round of competition. Another Augsburg team, the Palpable Thrills took second place in the competition consisting of Fran Fairfield (Class of 2017), Clinton Billhorn (Class of 2018), and Peter Seebart (Class of 2018).

A special thank you to MAPA (and the Student Relations Committee) for hosting this event.

Augsburg PA Students at the 2017 MAPA Challenge BowlAugsburg PA Program teams included:
Palpable Thrills (Fran Fairfield, Clinton Billhorn, Peter Seebart)
Myoclonic Jerks (Jessica Puchalski, Claire Maccani, Zach Stevens)
Lord have MRSA (Claire Pfleiderer, Justine Commerford, Cole Kriett)
Septic Shockers (Nadia Commers, Ellen Motley, Ashley Gross)

March 2, 2017

Augsburg College at PA Day on the Hill

On Tuesday, February 21, thirty Augsburg College Physician Assistant students participated in advocacy events at the Minnesota State Capitol.  The Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants (MAPA) organizes these opportunities for MN-based PAs to meet with their legislators and discuss the importance of the Physician Assistant in Minnesota’s healthcare community.


Collage of photos from the MAPA event

February 15, 2017

Auggies Outside the Classroom

Emma Hermes '18, Haley Johnson '18, and Clinton Billhorn '18 visit the Ronald McDonald House
[L to R] Emma Hermes ’18, Haley Johnson ’18, and Clinton Billhorn ’18 visit the Ronald McDonald House


Throughout the year, Augsburg PA students participate in and organize a variety of volunteer experiences in the Twin Cities community. Here are three examples of their work:

  • Participating in Project Access at Edison High School and other area high schools. As part of the Physician Assistant Education Association’s (PAEA) annual forum, several first and second year PA students along with practicing PAs, share information about the PA profession and how to start preparing for a career in medicine. For more information,
  • Raising funds for the Ronald McDonald House with the annual student society 5K run/walk in September.
  • Participating in a PA student panel for the pre-PA club at the University of Minnesota.

December 14, 2016

Augsburg Announces Twentieth Class of Physician Assistant Studies Graduates

On December 10, 2016, twenty-three students completed commencement exercises to receive a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.

During the ceremony, Brady Griffith ’16 spoke on behalf of his fellow classmates as the class representative.

Dr. Keith Wenda, OB/GYN and long-standing preceptor for the program, delivered the commencement address.  The start of his gradual retirement in 2017 will be truly bittersweet for the Augsburg PA Program, as Dr. Wenda has mentored over 180 PA students since 1995.

Carissa Carlson, PA-C received the Clinical Instructor of the Year Award, as voted upon by the graduates.  Carissa is also an Auggie alumna, graduating from the PA Program in 2009.

The faculty and staff of the program congratulate these twenty-three men and women on their achievements.  We wish them well as they prepare to sit for the national certifying exam in the upcoming weeks and months.

The class of 2016 is the twentieth class to graduate from Augsburg’s PA Program since its founding in 1995.


December 9, 2016

Second year students attend national kidney foundation conference

[L to R] Kaitlyn Brunes ’17, Jessica Puchalski ’17, Omar Fernandes ’17, Kristina Moburg ’17, Fran Fairfield ’17, Carmen Lezpona ’17
Augsburg PA students attended the National Kidney Foundation conference on Saturday, December 3rd.  Participating students had the opportunity to hear from local nephrologists, primary care doctors, and even a patient who had received a kidney transplant. The conference focused on prevention and screening of chronic kidney disease, especially among the population of patients with Type II Diabetes.

Visit for more information about kidney disease prevention and screening.

December 5, 2016

Augsburg PA Program organizes Winter coat drive

The Augsburg PA Program held a Winter Coat Drive that received twenty winter coats for those in need.  Students also collected and donated cinch bags that will serve as backpacks to help protect belongings from the elements.

It is expected that the number of people who require shelter still surpasses the amount of available space in shelters.  By supplying them with warm attire, Augsburg PA students are hoping to help prevent frostbite and illness that will only further their displacement and struggle.

Items were donated to ACCESS Homeless Outreach and Joseph’s Coats.

October 20, 2016

Class of 2018 participates in white coat ceremony

On September 26, the Class of 2018 participated in the annual White Coat Ceremony held by the Augsburg College Physician Assistant (PA) Program. The White Coat Ceremony joins the symbol of the white coat with the principles of humanism in medicine which include professionalism, altruism, responsibility, respect, and compassion. Thirty PA students, faculty and staff from the program were joined by nearly 100 friends and family members at the event. The White Coat Ceremony is held early in the academic phase of the Augsburg PA Program, and is an opportunity for students to share their commitment to the study and practice of medicine. In addition, each student received a Keeping Healthcare Human pin provided as a gift from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, initiators of the first White Coat Ceremony in 1993 as a visible reminder of the key principles of humanism in medicine.


September 21, 2016

Augsburg College health and wellness fair


[L to R] Emma Hermes ’18, Clinton Billhorn ’18, Jessica Puchalski ’17
The Augsburg PA Student Society recently hosted a booth at the College Health and Wellness Fair. The Student Society distributed handouts about the process of getting into a PA program, as well as information about the role of a Physician Assistant within the healthcare system. Many undergraduate students and community members stopped by the booth to ask current PA students about their experiences and recommendations for the PA school admissions process. A current Augsburg PA student stated “We wish everyone luck in reaching their goals and hope that some prospective students learned more about the responsibilities and skills that PAs possess.”

September 6, 2016

Physician Assistant students volunteer at Community Meals over Labor Day Weekend

[L to R] Claire Maccani ’18, Clinton Billhorn ’18, Emma Hermes ’18, Erin Ness ’18

A first year student said “we volunteered this weekend at Community Meals and once again had a positive experience.  Many of the guests had stories about how Augsburg has helped them.  They were very excited to see us, and the other volunteers were especially kind.”

The student volunteer went on to say that the guests engaged them in many good conversations about the students’ future healthcare careers.

There have plans in place to continue volunteering at Community Meals as the fall semester continues.

June 14, 2016

Online Registration is Now Open for 10th Annual “Run for Your Life” 5k

What: Augsburg PA Run for Your Life 5k
Where: Central Park Victoria West – Lions Shelter in Roseville, MN
When: Saturday, September 24, 2016 at 10:30 a.m.

Please visit for more information and event details.

The official 5k registration link is located at

Questions?  Email


April 5, 2016

Physician Assistant Graduates Featured in Spring Edition of Augsburg Now

[L to R] Tom Towle ’14, Scott Harder ’15, and Christina Pekoske ’15
The spring 2016 edition of Augsburg Now, a publication of Augsburg College, is available now in print and on the web.  Several Augsburg College physician assistant alumni were featured in a portion of the magazine called Auggies Connect — a section dedicated to alumni highlights and stories.

Read more about how PA alumni are helping current Augsburg PA students by sharing their time and talents in clinic and in the classroom.

For more information about Augsburg Now, or to read other stories, visit:


March 23, 2016

MAPA Selects Longstanding Augsburg Clinical Instructor for Preceptor of the Year

On March 16 – 18, the Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants held its 2016 Spring Conference in Brooklyn Park, MN.  Among the various annual recognitions awarded by MAPA, a new award was added for 2016.  MAPA sought nominations for this new award — Clinical Preceptor of the Year — in late 2015.

The Augsburg Physician Assistant Program put forth a nomination for the new award based on the graduating class of 2015’s chosen recipient of the Clinical Instructor of the Year (see story dated December 7, below).  Dr. Joseph McRaith was ultimately recognized as MAPA’s 2016 Preceptor of the Year as a result of Augsburg’s nomination.  Dr. McRaith has precepted many classes of Augsburg PA students in internal medicine, and we are so thankful for his commitment to our program.  Although Dr. McRaith was not available to receive his award on March 18, Dr. Quella graciously accepted the award on his behalf.

To read more about MAPA and the other 2016 award winners, visit:

Congratulations, Dr. McRaith!


March 21, 2016

Dr. Alicia Quella Receives 2016 AAPA Award

AAPA logo“The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) Awards Committee has announced the recipients of the 2016 AAPA Awards.  These awards are the highest recognition bestowed on Academy members and are awarded to PAs who have distinguished themselves in service to patients, the community, and the PA profession.”  — news release dated 3/18/16

Augsburg College Physician Assistant Program Director, Dr. Alicia Quella, received the 2016 AAPA Publishing Award for her in-depth analysis of PA compensation and influence of PAs and NPs on the healthcare market.

To learn more about the American Academy of Physician Assistants, visit:

Congratulations, Dr. Quella!


February 4, 2016

Faculty Member Skye Peltier Attends EAHAD 2016Peltier2

The 9th Annual Congress of the European Association for Haemophilia and Allied Disorders was held in Malmö, Sweden in early February.  Augsburg Physician Assistant Instructor Skye Peltier, PA-C, attended the conference.  Peltier has worked in hematology in both Minneapolis, Minnesota and Portland, Oregon.

For more information about the European Association for Haemophilia and Allied Disorders, visit:

For more information about EAHAD 2016, visit:


January 4, 2016

Augsburg Announces Nineteenth Class of Physician Assistant Studies Graduates

On December 18, 2015, thirty students completed commencement exercises to receive a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.

Class of 2015

During the ceremony, Shelby Winzent ’15 spoke on behalf of her fellow classmates as the class representative.  Dr. Dave Dvorak, emergency medicine physician and long-standing lecturer for the program, delivered the commencement address.  Dr. Joseph McRaith received the Clinical Instructor of the Year Award, as voted upon by the graduates [see story dated December 7, below].

The faculty and staff of the program congratulate these men and women on their achievements.  We wish them well as they prepare to sit for the national certifying exam in the upcoming weeks and months.

The class of 2015 is the nineteenth class to graduate from Augsburg’s PA Program since its founding in 1995.


December 11, 2015

Augsburg PA Program Holds Fall 2015 Challenge Bowl

Students from the Class of 2015 and Class of 2017 took part in the annual Fall Challenge Bowl at the Augsburg College PA Program. The Fall Challenge Bowl is an opportunity for students to review material prior to final exams and to participate in a friendly competition. In addition, this is a unique, innovative opportunity for Augsburg PA students from the graduating class and the first year cohort to interact and network. The winning team this fall was Team Scoliosis comprised of Tess Lauer ’17, Meagan McGovern ’15, Abigail Zagar ’15, Lisa Hanson ’17, and Cynthia Matthees ’15.

Team Scoliosis Claims the Championship
Team Scoliosis Claims the Championship

The Fall Challenge Bowl is modeled after the National Medical Challenge Bowl which is held annually at the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) annual conference. The competition is slightly modified to help meet the needs of Augsburg PA student as they prepare for final and comprehensive exams each semester.

For more information about the National Medical Challenge Bowl:


December 7, 2015

Graduating Students Select Dr. Joseph McRaith as Clinical Instructor of the Year

Each year, Augsburg PA students nominate and vote on their favorite preceptor from the clinical year. The award is given at graduation to demonstrate our appreciation for the preceptors in our community. This year, we are happy to announce Dr. Joseph McRaith as the winner!

Dr. McRaith specializes in internal medicine and practices as a hospitalist under Rotilie, Toman, & McRaith, LLC. A graduate of the University of Minnesota Medical School, he completed his residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. McRaith is affiliated with HealthEast Care System and Allina Health in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is a valued clinical instructor at Augsburg College and has precepted many classes of physician assistant students.

A graduating student who nominated Dr. McRaith had the following to say about his excellence as a provider and preceptor:

Dr. Joseph McRaith
Dr. Joseph McRaith

“While I was on the medicine service with Dr. McRaith, he let me learn at my own pace while seeing my own patients. At the same time, he supervised me and made sure that I understood the rationale behind each treatment plan. He pushed me to my full potential and helped me realize my passion for inpatient internal medicine.  During the whole rotation, I felt like my opinions mattered and that I was actually treated as more than just a ‘student’. All of my classmates who have rotated with Dr. McRaith and his group have nothing but good things to say, even those who are not interested in internal medicine.”


Congratulations to Dr. McRaith!


December 4, 2015

Augsburg PA Student Selected as Future Educator Fellow with PAEA

Megan McGovern '15 and Professor Jenny Kluznik in Washington, D.C.
Megan McGovern ’15 and Professor Jenny Kluznik in Washington, D.C.

Augsburg PA student Megan McGovern recently participated in the inaugural Future Educator Fellowship developed by the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). She was selected through a competitive application process and was one of 25 PA students from across the country to participate in the two day fellowship experience at the PAEA Education Forum in Washington, D.C. on November 13-14, 2015. The fellowship was developed for PA students pursing a career in medical education and to assist students to begin building skills for transitioning into teaching roles. Fellows took part in sessions around issues of health education research, advocacy, and leadership. Megan will be graduating from the Augsburg PA Program in December 2015, and is interested in practicing in Pediatric Endocrinology.

As part of the Future Educator Fellowship, Megan and Jenny Kluznik, MPH, PA-C (Assistant Professor in the Augsburg PA Program) took part in Hill Day, a large-scale advocacy event for PA education. Megan and Professor Kluznik met with legislative staff from Congressman Keith Ellison’s and Senator Al Franken’s office to discuss two new pieces of legislation that were recently introduced before the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation seeks to increase resources of PA program and students, address issues such as student debt and loans, and overall aims to increase quality health care in underserved areas.

For more information about the Future Educator Fellowship:

For more information about the Hill Day and PA education legislation: