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Health Commons Receives Health Equity Award

The Augsburg University Health Commons is proud to receive $50,000 in awards for the Health Equity Innovation Grant, funded by AARP, the AARP foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Each recipient was awarded based on the mission and goals to help eliminate structural inequities, including structural racism, in the healthcare industry while providing care and expanding access to people who are often faced with inequities and barriers to healthcare.

 

Learn more about the program and what director Katie Clark has to say about her gratitude and plans for expanding the Health Commons with Augsburg University’s official blog post. Check out the Health Commons website to find more information on volunteering, donating, or just to spread the word.

Faculty Update: New Adjunct Instructors

Augsburg University is excited to welcome some new adjunct instructors to our PA Program’s faculty. Each of these new members will provide a fresh perspective on teaching students and help further drive the Augsburg mission of serving the underserved within our strong communities.

Let’s learn a little more about each person joining the team:

 

Alannah Zheng headshotAlannah Zheng, MSPA, PA-C (Adjunct Instructor)

Alannah received her BS in Biology and BA in Spanish from Northwestern College in St. Paul in 2014 and her MSPA from Bethel University in 2017.

Alannah has over 5 years of experience in sexual and reproductive health and family medicine. She is passionate about the PA profession and serves as a Director-at-Large for the Minnesota Academy of PAs. She recently finished courseworkd to become a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) and is working towards becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She is very much looking forward to her first adjunct role at Augsburg!

Alannah loves teaching and learning and would tell you that she is interested in everything! Outside of work, Alannah loves to cook, bake gluten-free recipes, crochet, work with her husband in the family restaurant, and spend time with her cats, Calliope and Copernicus, and chihuahua, Ruby.

 

headshot of Megan JohnsonMegan Johnson, PA-C (Adjunct Instructor)

Megan received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Masters in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Iowa in 2010. She has served in many roles in the fields of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Chicago, the Mayo Clinic and her current outpatient practice in the Twin Cities. She was appointed Academic Instructor by the Mayo Clinic and published original research in the Obstetrics & Gynecology green journal.

Megan has a deep-seated passion for Women’s Health and specializes in surgical management. In her free time, she enjoys spending time at the lake alongside her husband and 3 children.

 

headshot of mara czajaMarah Czaja, PA-C (Adjunct Instructor)

Marah is a family medicine trained and board certified Physician Assistant with an interest in addiction medicine. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Spanish from Berea College in Berea, Kentucky in 2012 and a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree from Elon University in Elon, North Carolina in 2016. Marah has nearly 7 years of experience working in community health centers with a focus on primary care and addiction medicine in underserved communities. She has a deep passion for supporting folks in their journey of recovery from substance use.

Marah is committed to provide high-quality, trauma informed, patient centered care. She believes that patients are the experts of their body and mind, and her role is to provide therapeutic education, knowledge, and options for healthcare. She is very excited to be a part of the Augsburg team and help train future leaders in healthcare.

In her free time, Marah enjoys spending time with her dog, cats, and chickens, hiking and exploring new state and national parks, kayaking, spending time with family and chosen family, and reading a good book!

 

headshot of Brittany StrelowBrittany Strelow, PA-C, DMSc (Adjunct Instructor)

Brittany received her BS in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in 2008, her MS in Physician Assistant Studies from Pace University in New York, NY in 2011, and her DMSc from University of Lynchburg, VA in 2021.

Brittany has been a PA since 2011 with clinical practice in hematology, family medicine, and internal medicine. She has published peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, abstracts, posters, and presented locally, nationally, and internationally. She has received POCN Top PA: Internal Medicine as well as Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants (MAPA) Preceptor/Mentor of the Year.

She is active with leadership in both state and national PA chapters, but in her free time, she is a mom to two kiddos and has a loveable chocolate lab. Her hobbies include scrapbooking and cake decorating, and she also has been an avid volunteer for the American Cancer Society.

 

headshot of kelsey reif in a striped shirtKelsey Reif, PA-C (Adjunct Instructor)

Kelsey Reif is originally from Minnesota. She attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH and received her undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry. She then went on to Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI and graduated in 2016 with her master’s in Physician Assistant Studies, returning home to MN to practice.

Kelsey started working September of 2016 as a surgical PA, focusing on general and colorectal surgery. She has a particular interest in robotic surgery and assists in these cases frequently. She also spends her time managing patients in the hospital as well as seeing patients in the outpatient clinic setting.

Kelsey has been a leader for PA students since working at HealthPartners. She overseees the PA students during their rotation with general surgery and has very much enjoyed giving back as an educator. This has now evolved into joining the Advance Practice Clinician Advisory Board as champion for advanced practice provider students at Regions. She has further advanced her education career as an adjunct faculty member with Augsburg’s PA Program.

In her spare time, Kelsey enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids. She also enjoys being active with biking and running, spending time outdoors, traveling, cooking, experiencing new restaurants, and attending live music events.

Give to the Max 2022

A huge thank you to all those who donated to support the PA Program’s Give to the Max fundraiser!

 

We are continuing to raise funds to help support our graduate students as they become fellows and help the program with creating a more diverse learning environment.

 

As a program, we recognize the disparities of the learning environment and the lack of PAs of color and those from more underserved backgrounds serving as instructors within the field. The Augsburg PA Program’s fellowship aims to close the gap of PAs of color as higher education faculty, and encourage new graduates to pursue the path of educators.

 

We hope that more support from institutions like Augsburg University can bolster a new network of diversity-minded and diverse professionals who will better reflect the changing landscape of healthcare. More and more patients are people of color, people from rural and historically underserved communities, and we need an education system that reflects this changing population. We are preparing our students to gain experience in a more diverse professional setting with the help of our graduate fellows, who have already experienced these different work settings through their Clinical Phase rotations and Preceptorships.

 

Take a glimpse at how the fellowship has made an impact on our department, and learn more about Augsburg’s ongoing initiative with the video from our campaign.


 

To help fund this new part of our program, donate here and select the PA Program in the drop-down menu of options.

PA Fellowship of 2022 Awarded!

Augsburg University’s PA Program Proudly Adds 2 New Fellows to Our 2022-2023 Year

 

headshot of ashley schleh in a pa program white coat
Ashley Schleh

As a part of our Equity and Inclusion initiatives here at Augsburg University, we are proud to welcome two of our graduating students back as Fellows for the 2022-2023 year. Ashley Schleh and Katie Schmitz are awarded the opportunity to grow their skills as mentors and PAs in the time between graduation and clinical practice. This fellowship aims to address some of the inequities in the medical field and PA education by supporting diversity focused PA graduates to become mentors, preceptors and hopefully future faculty. It is an opportunity to help foster a culture that inspires diversity and inclusion of new and current students and to help them navigate their journey to become a PA.

 

Our graduate fellow program allows recent grads the opportunity to learn about the principles of health professions education from the PA program’s faculty and staff directly. They will also assist the current cohorts through mentorship, lecturing, assisting in the skills lab, and facilitating discussion of case studies. They will also provide important feedback on how to make our program and curriculum more inclusive and supportive of all students and the diverse populations they will serve.

 

When expressing interest in the program and its goals, Ashley Schleh mentions:

” I recognize the importance of creating and maintaining a culture of inclusiveness collectively within our program. I truly believe that education and overall understanding of the importance of diversity and inclusion is vital to the creation of empathetic and culturally competent clinicians.”

 

headshot of katie schmitz in a white pa program coat
Katie Schmitz

Katie Schmitz states in her application that she would like to continue fostering diverse environments as she looks into her future of clinical practice, preceptorship, or even as a possible faculty member. She notes:

“…a genuine passion for medicine and learning coupled with sincere empathy is what transforms a strong student into an outstanding clinician. It has been a gift to receive the title of ‘lifelong learner’ and would be a privilege to leave behind a mark of gratitude through serving as an Augsburg PA Graduate Fellow while continuing my education.”

Augsburg University’s PA Program looks forward to having Ashley and Katie join our faculty and staff as they grow and work alongside the academic cohort.

 

PA GRADUATE FELLOWSHIP ANNOUNCEMENT

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

SCHOLARSHIP SPOTLIGHT: THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE CORPS SCHOLARSHIP

Mayan Aideed, Augsburg PA Program Student
Maryan Aideed, Class of 2023

Congratulations to Maryan Aideed, Class of 2023, for having been awarded the National Health Service Corps Scholarship. The NHSC builds healthy communities by supporting qualified health care providers dedicated to working in areas of the United States with limited access to care. The NHSC scholarship is a highly competitive award that pays for all PA school tuition, provides monthly living expenses while in school, and other costs like books, fees and medical equipment and in return, scholars work for two years in a medically underserved area in primary care. Awardees demonstrate their commitment to primary care and in serving communities that need medical providers most.

Maryan says about the scholarship; “I am so honored and grateful to be the recipient of the National Health Service Corps Scholarship. It is truly rewarding to be immersed in my passion and get an award for serving underserved and underrepresented communities in primary and preventative health care. This is in perfect alignment with my own mission and values, so I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you to all who have helped with this achievement, including the remarkable faculty, and mentors here at Augsburg University and in the PA program.”

We are proud to have Maryan in our 2023 cohort, and we thank the National Health Service Corps for offering this scholarship to generously support Maryan in her PA studies at Augsburg University.

Interview with Dr. Alicia Quella

Alicia Quella and Katie ClarkAugsburg can count it’s lucky stars to have an in-house epidemiologist in Dr. Alicia Quella (right), the Director of the PA Program. Along with Dr. Katie Clark (left), Executive Director of Health Commons and Nursing Associate Professor, Dr. Alicia Quella has been working to provide COVID-19 vaccines to Augsburg students, faculty and staff through the People’s Center. Recently, Dr. Quella was interviewed for Augsburg Now, our university’s semi-annual publication and blog. Find out how Dr. Quella has sought to keep Augsburg safe in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic at Augsburg Now.

Students Get Hands-On Experience Through Ultrasound Seminar

Under the guidance of one of the guest lecturers, a student works on a simulated patient while their peers look on in staggered seating.

The Augsburg Physician Assistant students were able to engage in a Live Ultrasound Seminar for their History & Physical Exam course. An ultrasound scan is a medical test that utilizes high-frequency soundwaves to capture live images inside the human body, thus allowing medical professionals to observe tissues, organs, and vessels without making an incision.

For the Live Ultrasound Seminar, students were broken up into small groups and rotated to various stations. A number of the stations had simulated patients and were proctored by two of the leading Ultra-Sound professionals in the state, Peter Lindbloom, PA-C and Tom Pahl, PA-C. (Be sure to check out an earlier blog post with alum Peter).

In one of the stations students worked with mannequins to familiarize themselves with utilizing the Transducer and monitoring the display.

Students were able to get hands-on experience while following social distancing protocols. The stations were broken up into two separate rooms including the 13-exam bay clinical skills lab which offered ample space for the student to engage with the stations safely.

Students and the preceptors also wore masks and face shields, gloves, and KN-95 masks that were provided for our live models. The faculty members who organized this seminar, Eric Van Hecke, PA-C and Ryane Lester, PA-C were engaged with students at their stations or working behind the scenes to make sure everything was going smoothly and the workshops stayed on schedule.

The experience was a resounding success which greatly benefits our student’s overall professional development while maintaining their safety. With the changing face of higher education, the faculty and staff at the Augsburg PA program adapt to continually provide students with an engaging learning environment.

 

New Year, New Space

Although this August was the formal relocation period of the Augsburg PA Program, we are settling into our new space and have welcomed campus to check us out. Earlier this month, we hosted an open house for visitors to tour our space and speak with staff and faculty. Our new home is in Riverside Plaza with student space occupying the majority of the lower level and administrative offices located on the fifth floor. As a program, students have one central location in addition to staff and faculty being in the same shared space. We have a few spaces available for conferences including a large conference suite on the lower floor to host departmental meetings. Students have a dedicated lounge space equipped with lockers and an ancillary study room.

.Geometric triangle black and white wallpaper on left hand wall. Moveable desks line left wall. Student lounge with lockers on right wall. Lower and upper cabinets are in background.

Reception area featuring two lobby chairs against a maroon wall with Augsburg University metal artwork. Chairs are framed by floor lamps

The clinical skills lab expanded in size from 10 to 13 exam bays plus an 2 simulated hospital bays. This expanded footprint allows for easier noise and temperature control, especially when we have at times 45 individuals moving around. There is plenty of cabinet and storage space to keep lab supplies secure and accessible. Our History & Physical Exam course has integrated SonoSim ultrasound into the curriculum and will be implement live ultrasound instruction during the 2020 spring semester. Special thanks to Courtney Perry for her wonderful photography!

Clinical skills lab room showing two exam tables framed by two grey curtains Two hospital exam bays with two hospital beds

Students look onward as instructor demonstrates ENT exam classroom with long desks and desk chairs

 

Surgical Mission Work: A Reflection from Haiti

Kristen Lindvall, PA-C began her PA journey with Augsburg after graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College. She completed her PA education in 2012 and then secured a job in general surgery with HealthPartners. Her experience at HealthPartners is characterized as a highly intense surgical practice with an emphasis on complex patient management. She served as a preceptor for many students rotating through their general surgery rotations. This past fall, Kristen returned to the Augsburg PA Program full time as a Clinical Assistant Professor. Annually, Kristen travels down to Haiti for surgical mission work and reflected on her most recent trip. 

operating on patientThis is my 5th year spending a week helping the people of Haiti through surgical mission work. This year, our team performed 82 cases ranging from appendectomy and hernia repairs to C-sections and thyroidectomy.The pathology is advanced, the patients have gracefully suffered while awaiting treatment, and the work is always incredibly rewarding.

There have been some recent criticisms of short term mission work. Criticisms have revolved around mission “voluntourism” relating to a lack of cultural understanding and performance of work for personal gain rather than true engagement in a community’s needs. I think healthcare is a great exception to this. We have specific skill sets, skills that are otherwise not present in third world countries, and we can directly impact these people by improving their quality of life immensely. The needs in the developing world can be overwhelming. It can feel impossible to make a dent in the problem. The focus, as always, needs to be on our individual patients and the life changing care we give. Although this is “short term” mission work, the impact on our patients is far from short term.

I would challenge everyone to remember why you became or are becoming a PA. Although needs at home certainly exist, consider expanding your practice globally. The need abounds. It will change you as a person and as a provider, you won’t regret it.