MAPA President’s Perspective

Erin Rysavy is an alumnae from the 2001 Augsburg PA Program. Prior to that, she completed a B.A. in Biology at the College of St. Benedict. Erin received her Masters in Public Health from the University of Minnesota. She is the current president of the Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants. Currently, she works for St. Cloud Orthopedic Associates. The following article appeared in the newest edition of MAPA’s newsletter, imPAct.

I was recently given the honor to speak at Augsburg University’s White Coat Ceremony. It gave me a chance to reflect on what the white coat means to me, and what a key role humanism plays in medicine!  Although I am a graduate of the Augsburg PA program, they did not have this ceremony as part of the process when I was there.  So I did a little Google research.  Interestingly I found that the history of the white coat stems from the 19th century.  At that time, there was great respect for certainty, in contrast to the quackery of medicine. During that time doctors mostly wore black garbs, representing formality, solemnity, and death. The white lab coat came to emphasize the more scientific approach to modern medicine, thanks especially to Joseph Lister, whose reproducible results helped researchers better understand how to prevent bacterial contamination. This color change also represented the “pureness”, and the dream that Lister had that bacteria could be successfully overcome; that pneumonia, appendicitis, or an infected blister no longer had to result in death.  Today, many people, including Dr. Gold suggest that the white coat is viewed as a symbol of compassion and responsibility to not only take care of patients, but to care for patients.

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Augsburg University PA Program: Looking Forward

Jenny Kluznik (MPH, PA-C), assistant professor for the Augsburg Physician Assistant Program, and Kaylie LaPlante, a first year PA student, collaborated on an article featured in this month’s Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants newsletter, imPAct. Kaylie is the MAPA student representative for the Augsburg PA Program. 

The Augsburg Physician Assistant (PA) Program was established in 1995, and was the first PA program in the state of Minnesota. Since the launch of the program, over 500 PAs have graduated from the program and are providing care for patients in Minnesota and around the world. Building on the strong foundations in the program, we have seen many exciting changes in recent years including a new location, a new curriculum, and new community partnerships. In the fall of 2015, the PA program relocated from the main Augsburg University campus to a space on the Luther Seminary campus in St. Paul. This has offered an opportunity for the PA program to continue to develop and grow community partnerships and classroom/lab spaces for our students. This fall the PA program launched a new curriculum which emphasizes active learning and practical application of medical knowledge to patient cases. The cornerstone of this curriculum is a case-based small group course run throughout the academic phase which integrates material from the other courses. The curriculum also explores concepts and skills in cultural competency, working in various medical settings and with other health professions, and building clinical-decision making skills which are all crucial skills for new graduates.

What has remained constant at Augsburg University PA Program is our commitment and dedication to our students and our mission – which includes a deep dedication to training primary care PAs with a commitment to providing care in underserved areas. We would like to share some stories from our graduates and current students on their experience at the Augsburg PA Program including why they choose this program and how their training at Augsburg has shaped their careers.

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“Run for Your Life” 5k — Registration Now Open!

Photos from the Run for your Life 5KWe are delighted to announce the 11th Annual “Run for Your Life” 5k!

Come out on September 23, 2017 to help us promote the PA profession and healthy lifestyles!  Proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House and the Augsburg PA Student Society.

Raffle tickets will be awarded for each can of non-perishable food item donated (up to 5 raffle tickets per person, but donate as many cans as you’d like).  Donated food items will go to our Campus Kitchen, supporting the underserved in the community.

Raffle prizes include gift certificates for massages, a month-long CorePower Yoga membership, Alchemy fitness classes, beer growlers, Guthrie Theater tickets, Ordway Center tickets, and much more!

Please also consider joining us for pre-race yoga to loosen up those muscles for running (or really speedy walking) with an amazing yoga instructor (who happens to be one of our own PA students!).

You can register online in advance*, or in-person on race day.

*Students can receive a discount by using promo code Student2017


9:00 – 9:45 a.m.
Check-in & race day registration ($20 cash or check)

9:15- 9:45 a.m.
Pre-race yoga

10:00 a.m.
Race begins!

11:00 a.m.
Ceremony and raffle drawing

Augsburg PA Graduate, Tracy Keizer, Featured on AAPA Website

Tracy Keizer
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

Augsburg PA Students are the 2017 MAPA Challenge Bowl Champs

PA students at challenge bowlAs 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 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)

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.

photo collage of PA students at the capitol

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.

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.

2016 graduates

Second year students attend national kidney foundation conference

Kaitlyn Brunes ’17, Jessica Puchalski ’17, Omar Fernandes ’17, Kristina Moburg ’17, Fran Fairfield ’17, Carmen Lezpona ’17
[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.