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Augsburg PA Program Director Receives Honor From AAPA

Vanessa Bester EdD, PA-CVanessa Bester, EdD. PA-C has been recognized as a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA). Dr. Bester is the program director for Augsburg University PA Program and has been a PA for 19 years. Vanessa earned this national recognition due to her outstanding contributions to patient care and the PA profession. 


After graduating from the University of Florida’s PA Program, Vanessa began her career as a National Health Service Corps scholar, working in HIV primary care and infectious diseases.  Her life and career have led her to practice in pulmonary, critical care, emergency medicine, cardiology, military medicine in Germany (as a civilian provider), and most recently, back to community health care in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis. Vanessa completed her doctorate in education in 2019 from Northeastern University. 


Vanessa advocates for Minnesota PAs as a Director-at-Large for the Minnesota Academy of PAs and its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee.  She is also actively involved at the national level with Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion work serving on the PA Education Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Mission Advancement Commission, and has been awarded several research grants and a fellowship to further diversity in the PA profession. Above all, Vanessa is dedicated to furthering the mission of the Augsburg PA Program: to educate empathic, community-minded, and forward-thinking health care leaders to practice in primary care with a focus on underserved, underrepresented, and marginalized communities.


The Distinguished Fellow program was established by AAPA in 2007 to recognize the exceptional contributions of PAs to the profession through professional achievement, leadership, professional interaction, learning, and community service. After acceptance into the program, Distinguished Fellows continue to contribute to the work of AAPA and the PA profession. This distinction is earned by less than 2% of the entire AAPA membership.  


About AAPA


AAPA is the national membership organization for all PAs. PAs are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider. Learn more about the profession at and engage through FacebookLinkedInInstagram, and Twitter. 

Congratulations Dr. Kurt Devine

Dr. Kurt Devine

Augsburg University and the PA Program attract faculty who are the best in their field. And we’ve got the receipts to prove it! Dr. Kurt DeVine, MD, the program’s Medical Director, is a Family Physician of the Year finalist through the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP). Dr. DeVine is a multi-disciplined family medicine physician, practicing family medicine and addiction medicine. Over the past two years, Dr. DeVine, along with his associate Dr. Healther Bell, MD, has provided a unique learning opportunity for our students through his ECHO Substance Use Disorder curriculum. The Augsburg PA Program is honored to have Dr. Kurt DeVine on the team! We would like to congratulate him on this prestigious recognition, and extend our thanks for taking on this critical work and for representing the Augsburg University PA Program!

Congratulations Dr. Katie Clark

Augsburg annually recognizes teaching faculty that have made exemplary contributions to creating an engaging academic learning environment. The PA Program would like to join Augsburg in congratulating Dr. Katie Clark, Nursing Associate Professor, who has been recognized for her distinguished contributions in service for the community as Executive Director of Augsburg’s Health Commons. Many of those served by the Health Commons are living on the streets of Minneapolis or are marginally housed. Katie figured out a way to continue to serve the community during the COVID-19 pandemic — she started seeing visitors outside, continuing to distribute hygiene kits and delivering food to encampments and to those who tested positive for COVID and were not allowed into the shelters. You can read more about Dr. Katie Clark’s leadership of the Health Commons over the course of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Augsburg Now. Congratulations, Dr. Katie Clark, and thank you for your continued service to the communities of Minneapolis!

July Program Highlights

It’s been a busy summer for the Augsburg PA program! Many notable events and updates occurred in the month of July.

Yesterday we welcomed new program manager Conrad Carlozzi! Conrad previously worked for Project for Pride in Living in various roles. The department is excited to have him join our team. Stay tuned for more about Conrad and what brought him to Augsburg PA.

We are excited to announce that Eric Van Hecke, PA-C has moved into a full-time faculty position. When he initially joined the team earlier this year, he expressed his commitment to assisting students to develop into dynamic, professional and competent medical providers in a constantly changing clinical environment.

Augsburg University hosted the Urban Scrubs camp at the beginning of July. This week-long day camp allowed high school students to be exposed to 25 different careers in healthcare. The PA program closed out the last day with hands-on demonstrations of splinting. Current PA students, staff and faculty helped students learn exam skills and how to splint an arm.

participant applying splintPA student modeling how to splintparticipants doing exam after splinting


As second-year students transition into the clinical phase, they are diligently working on master’s projects. During their second summer in the program, students have the opportunity to conduct independent research to answer a specific question. Students may also elect to complete a course within Augsburg University’s Master of Arts in 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 photo of participants at heme camp playing dinosaur break

For yet another consecutive year, a student accompanied adjunct faculty member and Augsburg PA alumna, Skye Peltier, PA-C to Children’s Minnesota and the Hemophilia Foundation of Minnesota/Dakotas pediatric camp for patients that have hemophilia and other chronic bleeding disorders. Chelsea Johnson, PA-S2 is seen on the right as a captured dinosaur while playing dinosaur break with camp attendees.

A group of 19 made their way down to Costa Rica with Medical Director Holly Levine. Students are encouraged to develop their own perspective on what universal responsibility means to them and how they integrate it into their career. Throughout the course of 12 days, students visited important sites relevant to government, healthcare, and social services. The group immersed themselves into local communities and participated in cultural experiential learning. A highlight of the trip was hearing personal stories and experiences of Nicaraguan and Venezuelan immigrants.

group photo of students with immigrants and chlidren rainforst trek and group photostudents participating in soccer, mask making, coffee roasting

Summer 2019 – 5K Recap

The annual Run for Your Life 5K was held on June 8th at Roseville’s Central Park. Eighty-five participants showed up for pre-race warm-ups and a few laps around Bennett Lake. The first female to cross the finish line was Brooke Schramm, Augsburg PA-S2. Eric Kluznik, who is Professor Kluznik’s husband, was the first male to complete the 5K.

Group Photo Start of Race

For the 13th annual run, funds were raised for the PA Student Society and Project for Pride in Living. Project for Pride in Living (PPL) is an organization that provides transformative affordable housing and career readiness services to individuals and families who have lower incomes. In addition to the fundraiser for this organization, participants were encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for Augsburg’s Campus Kitchen Cupboard. After a weigh-in of all the goods, the Campus Cupboard will receive 92 pounds of food.

A special shout out is necessary for all our sponsors and donors as we so appreciate your support:

Alamo Draft House
Bole Ethiopian Restaurant
Bryce Jermain Salon
Dangerous Man Brewing
Headflyer Brewing
Kowalski’s Market
Marcus Theaters
Punch Pizza
Red Cow Restaurant
Science Museum of Minnesota
St. Paul Saints
Surly Brewing
Thayer Orthodontics
Theater in the Round Player
Tin Whiskers Brewing
Wild Mountain
Brandon Running with Dog  Group Finishing RaceTommie and Dog

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