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Alumni Spotlight

Augsburg University PA Program wants to celebrate the successes of our alumni by checking back in a year after graduation. Our first alumnus is Tommie Lee James, a 2021 grad. We asked him a few questions about his experiences.


Tommie Lee James, PA-C

What type of setting do you work in? Why did you decide your chosen area?photo of tommie james in a whitecoat and smiling

Emergency PA Fellowship. I chose Emergency Medicine because it just made sense to me. I wanted to practice in an area that excited me, had a variety of pathologies, and served a diverse population and vulnerable communities. Knowing that the learning curve is steep in EM I opted for a post-graduate fellowship to augment my learning and experience.

What was the biggest transition between PA school and your first job?

For me it was the transition from “What would you do?” to “What am I going to do?”. The sense of taking full ownership of my patients and having confidence in my decisions is admittedly a transition that I am still working through.

Any tips for students applying and interviewing for their first job?

Try making connections with the places that you are applying to. As much as jobs are looking at “can you do the work?”, they are more so concerned with “will this person be good to work with?”.

Any favorite memories from Augsburg’s PA Program?

The potlucks. AU PA Class of 2021 did not mess around when it came to our potlucks!

If you were not a PA, what career could you see yourself doing?

Definitely a science teacher.

What activities do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Mostly spending time with my wife and dog. But I really enjoy traveling. Most recently Yucatan and Quintana Roo, states in Mexico.

Do you have anything else you want to share?

I would encourage students to prioritize balance and be present during their schooling. Make some time for your health, friends, and family, because time is a luxury you can never get back.


2022 Clinical Instructor of the Year

Each year, Augsburg University awards one of our preceptors with the Clinical Instructor of the Year. This award celebrates the positive impact a professional clinical preceptor has had on our students throughout the course of the clinical rotations. This year, our clinical instructor took multiple students and allowed them to perform the first of many procedures they would need to do throughout their careers as PAs. All of our clinical instructors are valuable for the rotations because it gives students a chance to get hands-on experience with patients that will give them the tools for future practice. Our preceptors follow the same approach as medical training, including the “see one, do one” approach for clinical procedures.


Augsburg University is proud to award the 2022 Clinical Instructor of the Year award to one of our 1999 alumni: Anthony Lesch.


Anthony LeschAnthony Lesch completed an undergraduate degree from St John’s University in Collegeville, MN where he also played football and baseball, and earned his Masters in Physician Assistant Studies from Augsburg University. While most of his employment history is with Stellis Health in Family Practice, he spent 2 years in Arizona while his wife worked in health care administration. While there, Tony worked in family practice on Luke Air Force base in the Emergency Department at Goodyear Hospital.

Currently, Tony is on the executive board at Stellis Health as a representative for the advanced practice practitioners. He also spent time in the CVOR and Cath Lab. Tony enjoys spending time with his family, including his four children, and dogs. He also enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, golfing and boating.


Augsburg Faculty Article Publication

Vanessa BesterAugsburg University’s PA Program is proud to announce our Program Director, Dr. Vanessa Bester, has recently worked with co-author Dr. Carolyn Bradley-Guidry to publish a research article. The article, “Assessing Harmful Bias and Celebrating Strength Through the Narratives of Black/African American Physician Assistant Students” was published in the Journal of Physician Assistant Education in July, and covers the experiences of Black/African American PAs within the healthcare system.


The article opens up a discussion on ensuring that Black/African American PA students can get the proper support they need during studies, and opens the floor for bridging the racial disparity gap among students, and among caregivers and their patients.


Check out the article on the Journal of Physician Assistant Education’s site.


Dr. Bester has written a number of articles including “I Can’t Breathe—Courageous Conversations and Responses to Racism in Physician Assistant Education” and “Minority Physician Assistant Faculty: A Phenomenological Assessment of Factors Leading to Retention in the Faculty Role” among others.

Preceptor Spotlight


Jeremiah Lynch PA-C
Jeremiah Lynch, PA-C


Jeremiah Lynch, PA-C currently practices Family Medicine at North Memorial Health Clinic.Jeremiah has been very involved with Augsburg PA Program. He has participated as a preceptor in educating the next generation of PA’s. We thank him for his continued preceptorship in educating our students.For our preceptor spotlight, we asked Jeremiah to tell us a little about himself, his work as a PA, and about his time in the Augsburg PA Program.

Journey in Medicine

I graduated from the Augsburg PA program in December 2015, and I immediately started working in family medicine for a small independent practice. It was a great way to start out, and I was given a lot of time and flexibility to develop my abilities. Our practice was purchased by a large health system, but I’ve stayed in the same position for the last 6 years. During this time I spent some time with occupational medicine, but predominantly provided primary care. Our patients tend to be older with many immigrants. I also work for the Minnesota Army National Guard as a PA and have deployed to staff a clinic in the desert.

Augsburg PA Program

Augsburg’s PA program had a very good attitude about how to treat their students.  Once you were part of the program, they did everything they could to help you and enhance your abilities.  Although I do not know exactly what their selection criteria were, they constructed classes with a variety of different backgrounds from different parts of medicine, different age groups, and different life experiences. This allowed us to learn from each other in a powerful way. Everyone I graduated with was an intellectually curious and thoughtful person.


Choosing to Precept

I was interested in becoming a preceptor at my job to give students the best experience they can get before graduating.  I had many instructors and preceptors who were very generous in sharing their time with me to make me a better PA.  I would simply like to continue that tradition. However, I learn so much from the students who come through here that the benefit to my practice is noticeable. I have improved some of my documentation and operating procedures based on my experience with students.
In my job I have been a preceptor for almost exclusively Augsburg students and I have always been impressed with how much medical knowledge they have and how ready they are to use it.


Advice for Those Considering a Career in Medicine

Any advice I could give about careers in medicine might already be out of date as things change so rapidly. All I can say is that the job I chose gave me great experience and made me love going to work in the morning. I looked for a position based mostly on my belief that it would continue to educate me, and that management was interested in developing their providers.


Alternate Paths

It’s hard to imagine working in any other career, as I’ve been a phlebotomist, morgue attendant, and clinical lab scientist before becoming a PA. However, I do fantasize about an alternate timeline where I wrote role-playing games in the 1990s.



Outside of work I enjoy playing board, video, and role-playing games. I like hiking, camping, and some fishing.

We hope you enjoy our preceptor articles. We are always looking for preceptors and mentors to assist our future PA’s in their education.


Clinical instructors are a key ingredient in educating the next generation of PAs. The clinical training of PA students follows the medical student training, including the “see one, do one” approach for clinical procedures. PA clinical education includes core rotations in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, behavioral health, women’s health, general surgery, and emergency medicine. We are also open to specialty rotations as each student is able to complete an elective. If you would like to participate in the clinical education of PA students, please fill out the form.


Augsburg PA is excited to launch a mentoring program matching community PAs with second year PA students! Second-year students have transitioned from their didactic year into clinical education. There are multiple reasons why a student may be interested in having a mentor: networking with the professional community, tips on transitioning into their first job, learning more about a specific field, etc. If you are willing to share your experience and knowledge with a second year student, please complete the Become a PA Mentor form. The program will work to match you with a student. Once matched, the mentor and mentee will set their schedule. Please know that if you are not placed with a student right-away, we will keep you on our list for the following cohorts.



Lyn Zurakowski photo, Augsburg PA Alum 2020 and PA-C

We complete our alumni spotlight series profiling the class of 2020, by speaking with Lyn Zurakowski, PA-C.

Lyn Zurakowski, PA-C is a 2020 graduate of the PA Augsburg program. She currently works in a hospital where she practices hospital and critical medicine in Wisconsin. Lyn took the time to discuss her work as a PA, and offers some fantastic tips for PA students.

What type of setting do you work in?

I practice in Chippewa Falls, and Eau Claire, Wisconsin which serves a rural population.

Why did you decide to choose your area of medicine?

I practice hospital and critical care medicine. These environments allow me to care for patients with a wide array of medical conditions, which I find fascinating. Both of these areas are also very challenging, in that these patients are acutely ill. Because I care for patients with such a wide array of medical conditions, I am constantly learning and being challenged professionally. Additionally, hospital medicine is very collaborative; I really enjoy getting to work closely with my colleagues within the hospital medicine team as well as the other specialists/consultants. 

What was the biggest transition between PA school to your first job?

When you are in PA school, faculty often says that the volume of information and learning curve “is like drinking out of a fire hydrant”. I have joked with my fellow new graduate physician assistant colleagues, that being a new graduate physician assistant is like “climbing up a waterfall”. The volume of new information and learning curve doesn’t end on graduation day. Additionally, the mindset from thinking of yourself as a “student” to “provider” is also a challenge. In part, because there is now a lot of responsibility bestowed upon you, but also because there are feelings of imposter syndrome. 

What was a major challenge in your first year?

I started practicing in March 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has posed many challenges. Treating COVID-19 wasn’t something I had learned about in didactics because it wasn’t around at that time. Learning how to manage this patient population and continuing to keep up with the latest and everchanging evidence and guidelines has been an ongoing task. 

Coming up on your first-year anniversary, what are areas you feel more comfortable in now compared to when you started?

When graduation was nearing, I felt terrified in being starkly aware of how much I still didn’t know within the world of medicine. However, now I have embraced the fact that I will never know everything because that would be an unrealistic expectation to have of myself. Acknowledging that it is always ok to ask questions and knowing who/what my resources are have substantially increased my comfort level in practicing medicine. 

What tips do you have for students on applying and interviewing for their first job?

An interview is as much about you interviewing your potential future employer as it is about them interviewing you. Just as you should come prepared for what questions the interviewer might as you, you also need to come prepared with questions to ask. As a new graduate physician assistant, questions that I find important to ask include: What type of support will I be given? What does the onboarding process look like? 

Additionally, do your research and have a knowledge base regarding the organization you might be working for and the specific position you have applied for. Be able to speak to why that organization’s mission statement aligns with your own beliefs and goals. Most importantly, be genuine. 

What activities do you enjoy in your spare time?

In my spare time, I enjoy doing things that help me to feel relaxed and balanced in my life. Spending time with my husband, family, friends, and dog Gracie is very important to me. I also enjoy biking, kayaking, hiking, and reading. 

Do you have a favorite Augsburg PA memory you wish to share?

My time at Augsburg University was a very memorable one! I enjoyed being able to form many connections with fellow students, faculty, and preceptors. My clinical preceptor for my first clinical rotation was a physician assistant who was also an Augsburg alumna and a former registered nurse, like myself. Having those things in common, allowed for us to quickly form a connection. This preceptor helped me to build confidence in myself during my first clinical rotation and allowed me to struggle at times, knowing it would only make me stronger in the end. She pushed me when I needed to be pushed, but also reassured me and provided support.  She became an informal mentor to me and is someone who I still remain in contact with today. 

If you were not a PA, what career could you see yourself doing?

If not a physician assistant, I would want to be an astronaut! I have always found space and aeronautics very interesting. I really enjoyed reading the article published by the AAPA titled “Reaching New Heights: From Cancer Survivor to Becoming the First PA in Space” authored by Paulette Bleam, MBA. I can only dream of being a PA in space someday. 

Is there anything else you wish to share?

Set big goals for yourself. At the end of the day it is mind over matter, if you think you can’t, you won’t. Believe in yourself and surround yourself with others who also support your goals and dreams. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and try new things, both as a student and practicing physician assistant. 


Augsburg Alumni Spotlight

We continue this week with our profile of Alumni from the Augsburg PA class of 2020.

Bo LaFountaine PA in a medical office
Bo LaFountaine, PA-C


This week we have interviewed Bo LaFountaine, PA-C.

Bo is a 2020 graduate of the Augsburg PA program. She works in the Twin Cities area where she is currently in transition from Pain and Addiction Medicine to Emergency Medicine. 

We asked her a few questions about her continued involvement with Augsburg, working as a PA, and her time at Augsburg. 

What attracted you to Augsburg, and keeps you connected with the University?

Augsburg was one of the most competitive PA programs with very high pass rates on its boards, and I knew the education provided through Augsburg’s PA program would equip me well for life as a practicing PA. I had an incredible experience; my cohort was very close and I made some of my closest life-long friends through this program. Many Augsburg Alumni taught and mentored me and continuing to give back to the student community allows me to pay it forward for the future PAs. 

What type of setting do you work in?

I currently work in the Twin Cities, and am amidst a transition from Pain and Addiction Medicine to Emergency Medicine at two large Hospitals in the Cities–it is my dream job!

Why did you decide to choose your area of medicine?

From a young age I knew I wanted to be in medicine, helping as many people as I possibly can. Emergency medicine allows us to prevent further illness and injury and even the unique ability to save lives. I thrive in a fast paced and chaotic environment; however, I value a team-oriented approach to patient centered care. I have been fortunate enough to find a team that shares my values and is invested in my growth and development.

What was a major challenge in your first year?

COVID! An unprecedented time for everyone, particularly those in healthcare. Everyone was adjusting and the steep learning curve transitioning from a student to a practicing PA was incredibly humbling. But, that’s why we pursue medicine, to remain humble and continue learning. 

What tips do you have for students on applying and interviewing for their first job?

Money does not equal happiness. As a new grad, finding a team that you are comfortable approaching with questions and concerns is of the utmost importance. This allows for you to continue learning, avoid harmful mistakes, and shape your practice. Remain confident in yourself and your training, but also remain humble. 

What activities do you enjoy in your spare time?

I enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling (Pre-COVID my goal was to hit 30 countries by 30 years old), eating wonderful food, and knitting–during PA school I knitted ~200 hats! 

Do you have a favorite Augsburg PA memory you wish to share?

The people. The class of 2020 was a great cohort. We LOVED having potlucks, gathering and taking a respite from the chaos–together. We were a group that supported each other and cheered at each other successes. The academic phase of PA school was intense, and what I remember most are the friends that I made and all of the countless hours we spent together studying.

Is there anything else you wish to share?

For those applying to PA school, do not be discouraged! it only takes ONE school to say yes. Be authentically you, and the right school will choose you.


Augsburg Alumni Spotlight

As part of a new blog series, we will showcase some of our Augsburg PA alumni. The month of December will focus on alumni from the class of 2020.

Isaac and his wife Glory.


As part of our Alumni spotlight series, today we have reached out to Isaac Pierre, PA-C.

Isaac is a 2020 graduate of the Augsburg PA program. He is a practitioner at Nice Healthcare in Minnesota. We asked Isaac about his time at Augsburg, his approach to medicine, and his practice as a PA.

What attracted you to Augsburg, and keeps you connected with the University?

Among the many aspects that drew me to Augsburg was the focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. When visiting and interviewing with the PA program, I felt a sense of community, connection, and support from not only the cohort of students, but also the faculty. I continue to stay connected with Augsburg due to the program’s values as well as the quality of the people and relationships created.

What type of setting do you work in?

I work with Nice Healthcare, a tech-enable primary care clinic that provides both virtual and in-person care to patients. Our services come as an employee benefit and, thus, allows us to forego insurance and provide care at little or no cost to patients. In light of this, I work in a virtual and home visit setting within the metro, suburbs, and, at times, more rural areas of Minnesota.

Why did you decide to choose your area of medicine?

I was drawn to Nice’s model and company structure because it seeks to limit barriers to care by providing rapid, no cost, and convenient care. These factors, along with our longer visit slots of 20, 40, and 60 minutes, allow more ability to connect, support, and encourage patients to follow through with their care and sustain better outcomes. Additionally, I chose to work with Nice because of the culture that seeks to support one another’s personal growth, encourage employees to treat others as we would like to be treated, and create a psychologically safe environment to practice and work.

What was the biggest transition between PA school to your first job?

The biggest transition came in the way of navigating licensing, the job search, and the adjustment from the rigors of PA school into a more balanced approach to work and life. Completing my terminal degree provided a chance to reexamine the “when this, then that” approach that I had fallen into when planning the next steps in my life. I would often tell myself, “when I finish up school, then I will be able to invest in relationships or hobbies”. This mindset, as many of you are likely aware, can continue in perpetuity as we continue to create “when” items for which we must wait or accomplish. In light of this, one transition I have faced is continuing to study and gain medical knowledge while also enjoying life and finding a healthy balance of life outside of work and school.

What was a major challenge in your first year?

Continuing to implement the thorough and quality charting techniques that we learned in school, in a more efficient and time saving manner.

Coming up on your first-year anniversary, what are areas you feel more comfortable in now compared to when you started?

I feel more comfortable in many areas of practice. Specifically, diagnosing and treating common conditions as well as confidence in patient education. I have also learned much about goal setting and people management techniques.

What tips do you have for students on applying and interviewing for their first job?

While remuneration is an important component to any competitive offer, it is paramount to prioritize cultural fit, setting, and work/life balance. While it is easier said than done, ensuring that you land in a place that gives you the opportunity to learn and grow as a clinician and as a person can outweigh a difference in pay.

What activities do you enjoy in your spare time?

My wife, Glory, and I enjoy all things outdoors (gardening, hiking, biking, camping, snowshoeing, etc.). Thanks to a fellow Auggie PA grad, we have recently begun mushroom foraging this year and have yet to ingest a poisonous variety…thus far. We both find a lot of life in spending time with family, knitting, and also enjoying tv shows and documentaries (currently awaiting the next season of Ted Lasso!).

Do you have a favorite Augsburg PA memory you wish to share?

It is hard to pick just one memory as I fondly recall numerous evenings studying with classmates and celebrating after exams. That said, some of the most fun memories that I think back upon took place in Costa Rica during our summer immersion trip (including swimming in rivers, exploring new communities, touring a coffee roastery, and taking a salsa class).

If you were not a PA, what career could you see yourself doing?

I find a lot of life in working alongside those on the margins and have learned innumerable lessons of kindness, gratitude, and forgiveness from folks who have disabilities in the past. Given this, if I were not a PA I would hope to work in a setting that provides the opportunity to continue to learn from those on the margins of society.

Is there anything else you wish to share?

Though mental acuity, experience, and knowledge of medicine are all important aspects of the PA profession that we should strive to embody, my experience at Augsburg, throughout clinical rotations, at Nice Healthcare, and working with those with disabilities in the past have taught me that within a successful practitioner is the passion and the desire to serve another – to unveil their beauty, make known their worth, and recognize each person’s importance. We as practitioners are invited into a vulnerable and privileged position to, at times, hear a humble cry for communion that reveals to us something that is shared by all of humanity; each person is broken, each person is wounded, and each person is poor. The communal understanding that we are enough, in spite of and because of our imperfections, gives a sense of freedom to an individual and allows that person to tap into the well of tenderness hidden within. It is my hope that we can continue to embrace this freedom ourselves and better enable those around us to do the same.


With the support of Augsburg University’s Equity and Inclusion Initiatives, Augsburg PA program is proud to announce our 3 PA Graduate Fellows for 2021-2022! 

Miranda La Croix, Augsburg PA Student, Augsburg PA Fellow
Miranda LaCroix, Class of 2021

They are Miranda LaCroix, Merari Morales Rosales, and Brandon Young, Class of 2021. 

Merari Morales Rosales, Augsburg PA Student, Augsburg PA Fellow
Merari Morales Rosales, Class of 2021

The fellowship is an opportunity for recently graduated, diversity-minded PAs to grow their leadership and teaching skills in a hands-on classroom setting during the time between graduation and clinical practice.  The Graduate Fellow will be supported financially to work with the PA program to become mentors and role models to current PA students and PA faculty, reaffirming and growing our culture of equity, inclusion and diversity. 

We are very excited to have Miranda, Merari, and Brandon as our Augsburg PA graduate fellows for 2021-2022! We look forward to supporting their fellowship endeavors.

Brandon Young, Augsburg PA Student, Augsburg PA Fellow
Brandon Young, Class of 2021

Alumni Anniversary Series: Leading by Example

Meredith Wold headshotMeredith Wold is a 2007 graduate of the Augsburg PA Program. Since graduating, she has worked with the HealthPartners Hospital Medicine team at Regions Hospital.  While at Regions, Meredith co-founded the HealthPartners Hospital Medicine APC Fellowship program, co-chairs the Regions APC Committee, and serves on the Regions Medical Executive Committee. Additionally, she maintains an adjunct faculty role at Augsburg and is a past president of the Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants. Last fall, Meredith was promoted to Central Director of APC Fellowships across the HealthPartners system. Shortly after this announcement, we met with Meredith to dive deeper into her experience as a PA.

She was drawn to hospital medicine due to a combination of experiences while on her clinical rotations as well as her desire to have a career that reflected the breadth of what she had learned in PA school. Meredith remembers a specific preceptor at Fairview University Hospital, Dr. Rod McFadden, who was “a wonderful, wonderful hospitalist.” She recalls that Dr. McFadden “not only showed me the fun that came with the diverse clinical conditions in hospitalized patients,” but also demonstrated the curiosity and commitment that is integral to life-long learning. Meredith recalls, “He would sit down with me every day and deliver bite-sized lectures over lunch. He said it kept him learning, too.” After 3 years of PA school and this intriguing inpatient internal medicine rotation, Meredith knew hospital medicine would be a good match for her. Continue reading “Alumni Anniversary Series: Leading by Example”

Year in Review

academic lecture room with rectangular desks, two projection screens in background, couch in foregroundDuring the end of the year, and especially at the closing of a decade, the PA program looks back on 2019! One of the most significant changes occurred this past fall as the program relocated back to Augsburg main campus. A newly remodeled space in Riverside Plaza is the heart of the program. While faculty and administrative offices occupy the fifth floor, the lower level is home base for our students. The academic lecture hall was designed for our growing cohort size and the expanded footprint of the clinical skills lab now holds 15 exam bays, including 2 inpatient bays. groups of students sit working collaboratively around room

In 2019, we launched two new blog series to shine a light on the great work our alumni do. We celebrated anniversaries of being in the PA profession: Omar Fernandes’ one-year, Joy Adams’ and Kelsey McFarlane’s five years, Miranda Schoenecker’s ten-year and Peter Lindbloom’s twenty-two-years. Scroll through the blog feed and look for the “Alumni Anniversary Series” heading in order to read more. More recently, we started the “Living the Mission” series that highlights alumni working to provide medical care to underserved populations.

group of five students with Sandy who is holding a cakeIn November, we celebrated Sandy Fevig’s fifteen plus years of service to Augsburg. Sandy always looked after the students’ every need and was a friendly face to all department guests. We wish her well in her future endeavors! November also marked the program’s 23rd commencement for the Class of 2019. Clinical preceptor Vinh Dang, PA-C delivered the keynote speaker address, Nathan Kleppe gave the Student Commencement Speaker and Dr. Farhiyo Abdulle was honored as the Clinical Preceptor of the Year.

At the beginning of December, the program welcomed two new staff members: Emily Gomez and Sherrie Luetgers. Emily will lead the administrative team and work with department leadership as the program manager. She has a history of working in program management in several healthcare realms including hospice, epilepsy and oral health. Sherrie joins the team as another administrative assistant. She is no stranger to the world of healthcare after working for 18 years in roles as an HUC, EKG tech, and ER Tech. Ryane Lester comes to the PA department as another faculty member. Ryane practices clinically at Twin Cities Orthopedics. She is looking forward to contributing to the excellence of the Augsburg PA program and its students to help them gain a foundation to become confident clinicians.

Head shot of Emily  Headshot of Sherrie Luetgers  head shot of Ryane wearing blouse

Several of our students were recognized with scholarships of their own. For the second year running, an Augsburg PA student was selected as part of the Health Professional Scholarship Program through Veterans Affairs. Brandon Cottrell knew about the scholarship prior to PA school admission from his medical professional acquaintances while in the army. After graduating from Augsburg, he will work for at least 2 years at a VA healthcare center. The CVS Health Foundation Advance Practice Nurse and Physician Assistant Scholarship Program selected Augsburg as one of its grant recipients. The Augsburg PA Program was then able to award Miranda Lacroix, PA-S1, Taneasha Muonio, PA-S1, and Kamini bose Sundar bose, PA-S2, with $1,000.00 scholarships.

This past spring, the Augsburg PA Program was awarded a Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) grant. Through the grant, our program is committed to expanding rural and urban underserved primary care clinical education sites, partnering with clinics like the People’s Center Clinics and Services, who focus on team-based practice and community health care. Through this grant, our students will also receive substance use and opiate addiction training, through a ground-breaking program with CHI-St. Gabriel/Little Falls, MN tele-ECHO program. This training prepares Augsburg PA students for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) certification waiver through the DEA, making Augsburg PA students even more practice-ready upon graduation. We are excited that MDH has funded our efforts to continuously develop clinical education partnerships and improve PA training throughout Minnesota.

We look forward to the New Year and the next decade!