2019 Health Professional Scholarship Program Recipient

For the second year in a row, Augsburg PA is proud to share another student has received the Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP) from Veterans Affairs. The goal of the scholarship program is to increase the supply of PAs within the VA but also for the nation.Brandon in a light blue shirt, grey suit coat and matching plaid tie

Brandon Cottrell served in the United States Army from 2010 to 2016 with a deployment to Afghanistan. After his six years of service, he pursued a bachelor’s degree from Augsburg. Prior to being accepted into PA school, Brandon worked as a radiology technician. Now in his second year in the Physician Assistant Studies program, he is rotating through clinical experiences.

While Brandon was working in radiology, Brandon realized that he wanted to do more; understanding that he had medical capabilities that would be useful beyond his current license. Through researching advanced positions, the PA profession seemed a good fit. Even before admission into PA school, Brandon knew about the scholarship. Several of his medical professional acquaintances had received financial assistance in exchange for service. Continue reading “2019 Health Professional Scholarship Program Recipient”

Hoshmand Las – Living the Mission

The blog has recently featured anniversary stories from alumni and we are starting a new series focusing on alumni that are living out the Augsburg PA mission of providing medical care to underserved populations. Hoshmand Las, PA-C has been practicing for 5 years since graduating from the Augsburg PA Program in 2014. He currently works for Advanced Practice Solutions, a contract staffing agency of several local correctional and government facilities including, Ramsey County’s workhouse, juvenile detention center, jail, and prison. A few times a week he also provides primary and urgent care services in North Minneapolis at NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center where the patient population is characterized as mostly refugee and immigrant. 

alum Hoshmand Las, PA-C sits in his white coat and scrubs in his office

Hoshmand knew he always wanted to pursue a career in medicine because he is fascinated with how the body functions. The PA profession was first introduced to him during high school. As he pursued an undergraduate degree at Metropolitan State University, he enrolled in core science courses to prepare for PA school. “I leaned toward the PA route because it allowed me to practice medicine but also have a work/life balance.”  

There was no gap in between high school, undergraduate and graduate school for Hoshmand. He applied to ten schools during his last year at Metropolitan State University. A program in Pennsylvania accepted him but a week later he received an invitation to participate in a phone interview with Augsburg. Augsburg accepted him shortly thereafter! He was excited that his first choice extended an offer and he could stay in Minnesota.

The highlight of the didactic phase for Hoshmand was the hands-on skills workshops including casting and suturing. He recalls, “You were around a bunch of other adults, but yet we had the chance to act like kids again because we were all learning something new.” He remembers it being so interesting as it was a glimpse of his future. A challenging moment came during his first rotation where the political side of medicine was exposed. Hoshmand learned that sometimes you need to take out the umbrella in order to weather the storm. Throughout rotations, he remembered to always stay humble and really focus on the true reason he went into medicine.

After graduation, Hoshmand and two other classmates applied and were accepted at Emergency Physicians Professional Association (EPPA). EPPA was hiring new PA graduates so that they could train them in the EPPA model. Essentially, the first 7 months was a fellowship where Hoshmand worked directly under a physician and staffed every patient. Hoshmand recalls that he learned so much during his time there; “It was the best decision I could have made after graduate school because it made me more confident.”   Continue reading “Hoshmand Las – Living the Mission”

Augsburg Physician Assistant Studies 23rd Commencement

The twenty-third cohort of the Physician Assistant Studies program graduated at the end of August. These students have successfully made it through 27 months of didactic and clinical training. The ceremony took place at Hoversten Chapel on Friday, August 23rd and was an excellent commemoration of the students’ path leading them to this point. Graduates were addressed by several individuals including Commencement Speaker Vinh Dang, PA-C and Student Representative Nathan Kleppe.

Class of 2019 group photo

Continue reading “Augsburg Physician Assistant Studies 23rd Commencement”

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 communities.group 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
Breadsmith
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
Starbucks
Surly Brewing
Thayer Orthodontics
Theater in the Round Player
Tin Whiskers Brewing
Wild Mountain
Brandon Running with Dog  Group Finishing RaceTommie and Dog

Alumni Anniversary Series: 22 Years in Practice

Peter Lindbloom, PA-CAs part of our alumni anniversary series, we go all the way back to the first graduating cohort. The inaugural cohort graduated in 1997, which means our featured alumni, Peter Lindbloom, PA-C, will have been practicing for 22 years. Over the course of his PA career, Peter has worked in various practice areas and settings. Peter has been at North Memorial for the past 5 years in Trauma, Emergency General Surgery, and Surgical Critical Care. In his free time, Peter keeps active with his growing family. He has 4 children and 5 grandchildren. Peter precepts Augsburg PA students during their general surgery rotations. The Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants recognized Peter in 2008 as their PA of the Year. 


 As a freshman at the University of Minnesota in Morris, Peter attended a Sports Medicine Club meeting that had invited a PA guest speaker. Until that point, he was unfamiliar with the PA profession. Peter was an EMT with an ambulance service during his undergraduate years and obtained his paramedic license following his undergraduate studies. His decision to apply to PA school was driven by a desire to have a bigger scope of practice, more stable hours, better compensation and more responsibility in patient care.

 

Peter worked in family medicine for five years and had a full scope practice, excluding obstetrics. It was a good chance to practice the full breadth of medicine from infants all the way to geriatrics. The practice ran the whole gamut from dermatology to orthopedics. When he first started, it was at the time of health maintenance organizations (HMO) so the practice had a set number of insures. As time went on, there came to be increasingly more time commitments but fewer hours in the clinical workday to complete those tasks. He began a per diem position in a level II trauma emergency department. He subsequently left family medicine to practice emergency medicine full time with Mille Lacs Health System. They had just started staffing the night shift with PAs so that physicians would have the opportunity to sleep and then attend to patients the next day. Peter remembers receiving one of the best compliments while at Mille Lacs. The Chief of Staff at the time noted that since implementing E.D. staffing with full-time PAs, the amount of complaints decreased while the overall quality of patient care increased. Mille Lacs decided to permanently staff its emergency department 24/7 with PAs.

 

In the years since Peter graduated, there is significantly more access to information. He says that many students are not aware of how quickly, almost immediately, information can be available. Students should proactively be reading and staying up to date on the latest in technology and medicine.

 

Peter advises soon to be graduates to not sell yourself short! The nature of your clinical education is to give you a well-rounded experience. These rotations are an opportunity for both yourself and the health system to “kick the tires” and see if this might be a good fit. Often connections made during a rotation, or a preceptorship, can lead to a job, even if it is years down the road. For example, a mentor had called Peter to start up an emergency general surgery service at North Memorial 17 years after he had completed an elective rotation at North Memorial in Trauma and Surgical Critical Care.    

 

The nature of healthcare is quickly changing. In the coming years, health systems will be grappling with the aging baby boomer population as well as a physician shortage, among other healthcare factors. Due to these pressing issues, the PA role may further evolve and develop. Peter notes that it is still up to PAs to recognize and understand their limitations while employers demand more autonomy of PAs. The practicing PA needs to be confident yet humble enough to ask for help when necessary. He would encourage PAs to develop expertise in a specific area and be the “go to person” in their practice for questions in that area. This is value added to the health care team and benefits the patient. Pete says “we can’t lose focus of patient care. While patient satisfaction is the buzzword, we need to be evidence-based and measure outcomes all the while providing quality, cost-effective care.”

 

Healthcare is a team-based profession and there are various avenues to realize a career in this field. It is detrimental to the team to speak ill of another profession. When we recognize the value and merit of each health profession, the team succeeds and so does the overall care of the patient.

EdTalk – How PAs Think: A Glimpse into PA Education

As part of Augsburg’s EdTalk series through the Center for Teaching and Learning, Professor Jenny Kluznik spoke on how students are trained within PA education to step into the role of health provider, advocate, and leader. Jenny Kluznik is an Assistant Professor and the Academic Coordinator for the PA Program and joined the faculty in 2014. She serves as the course director for the Clinical Medicine course series in the didactic phase of the program. In addition, she is a graduate of the Augsburg PA Program and excited to be back teaching. Below you can watch the full EdTalk!

Alumni Anniversary Series: One Year in Clinic

This year we are highlighting Augsburg alumni that are celebrating their first, five, ten and twenty-year anniversaries! The first blog post in this series we talk with a graduate from the class of 2017, Omar Fernandes. Omar recently celebrated his first-year work anniversary with HealthPartners as a PA in family medicine. He currently practices in Eagan, MN in an outpatient clinic with two physicians, two other PAs, an obgyn/midwifery group, a chiropractor, a pharmacist, certified diabetes educator, and dietitian. With one year of experience under his belt, Omar has quite a lot to share with currents PA students about the first-year transition.


Why did you decide to pursue family medicine?

I chose family medicine because I thrive on patient and disease variety, and understanding human development holistically. I see a lot of different signs and symptoms playing out in various and sometimes, very complex rhythms. In clinic, there is not always the classic presentation of a case. I also get to work with an amazing range of patient personalities. You also get to establish amazing relationships. The lessons I’ve learned, especially from older patients, can be life-changing. Your patients are just as much of your teachers as you educate them about their health. Being a PA means lifelong learning that happens every day.

My advice for pursuing family medicine is to know that it is constant and never ends. There will always be something needs to be addressed. After the patient leaves, they should feel assured their concern has been addressed and there is a plan in place.

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

It was scary having a 3-month break between school and starting my job. You feel like you are forgetting what you learned and that can cause some anxiety. However, once you start, the knowledge comes back fast and you eventually find your stride! At HealthPartners, I ramped up to a full schedule within about five months.

What was a major challenge in your first year?

Staying on time is still my biggest challenge. There is a whole separate world of “electronic patient care” that is closely intertwined, yet also very independent from face-to-face care. You always need to keep a handle on your EMR in-basket because you can really get behind; there’s always a million labs, patients, and forms to address.

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

Procedures! I’ve gotten to do quite a few, and learned some new ones, too. They tend to come in waves, and there are always opportunities to learn more.

I also love managing certain conditions. Hypertension is one of my absolute favorites!  It is chronic, multifaceted and can sometimes be tricky to diagnose. There are so many moving parts to hypertension including various treatment options and still, it can be very difficult to manage.  It also requires a lot of patient cooperation.

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

Use your networks from school and rotations to advise you on jobs and contract negotiation. If you have multiple eyes look at your contract, you have that many more ideas on what type of compensation package makes sense for you.

While you should apply broadly, be sure you are applying to practice areas you enjoy.

Now that you have more spare time, what activities do you enjoy?

I’ve been doing some traveling and going to different national parks around the country.  I was in Death Valley, California over the New Year and that was really spectacular. I also really loved Zion in Utah. I joined the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus last September and our next show is this weekend. I also love doing CME stuff. My next conference is in Santa Fe, NM on wilderness medicine. In general, I think it is important to have a professional advancement goal to work towards.

On a side note, you can catch Omar singing in action at Unbreakable showing March 29th and 30th at the Ted Mann Concert Hall on the University of Minnesota West Bank campus! Purchase tickets to attend the show.

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.

But it matters to them . . .

Brady Griffith, PA-CBrady Griffith, PA-C graduated from the Augsburg PA program in 2016. He is now working as an Emergency Medicine PA at Ridgeview Medical Center. Before PA school, Brady was a ED Technician at Ridgeview and loved it so much that he knew he wanted to return there after graduation. He recently penned the following reflection and permitted us to share it: 

But it matters to them . . .

That short, simple phrase has had a profound impact on my practice.

Working in emergency medicine for the past 2 years has generated plenty of opportunities for introspection. On my late drives home from an evening shift, I found myself reflecting on the day. Did I sign that chart? Will that 88 year old do ok at home that I felt warranted admission but declined? Will the 5 month old with RSV do ok with just supportive cares? Will that dog bite that needed repair get infected? The list goes on.

One of my favorite parts about the emergency department is the variety of patients that walk through the door. While there are plenty of true emergencies on a day to day basis, there are plenty of… not so true emergencies. At least from our standpoint.

I remember driving home one night after a shift reflecting back on the day. It was a busy shift with high acuity patients. Trauma, stroke, heart attack… you name it. One MD and myself trying to manage the chaos. There were sobbing family members for a patient who had a serious head injury, screaming babies, an intoxicated patient yelling at nursing staff, and a distressed family of a young child whose j-tube had dislodged. We were doing our best to frankly stay afloat and safely practice medicine.

In the midst of the chaos, more ambulances were on the way heading our direction and the waiting room was filling up. A middle aged patient with the chief complaint of “personal matter” registered. Due to his overall stable clinical appearance and vital signs, the patient was triaged as low acuity and therefore waited about 2 hours until I saw him. He did not divulge any specifics of his concern to nursing staff and instead wanted to wait for a provider. He seemed very concerned explaining his problem to me although in my mind there was nothing concerning about his story. He had plantar warts.

I gave him some recommendations, provided reassurance, and discharged him home. In my mind, I was thankful for a patient that didn’t need a massive work-up. I couldn’t help but think at the time, why didn’t you just make a clinic appointment for this? This is not an emergency.

But it mattered to him.

As I was driving home that night, reflecting on the shift, I found myself thinking about the guy with warts more than the critical patients we served. It was the perfect juxtaposition in the context of that particular day. He frankly didn’t need to be there, but there he was.

Because it mattered to him.

That profound phrase has had a meaningful impact on my practice, friendships, and even my marriage. How often in life do we hurt someone unintentionally and then selfishly put the blame on the other person for getting hurt? Too often. Bottom line is that if it matters to the other person, it should matter to us.

Empathy must be at the foundation of medicine and life.

My realization that night was that if I ever stop caring about what matters to patients, I should step away from medicine, no matter how big or small the concern may be. Because, ultimately, it doesn’t matter what matters to me when I come to work…This is the beauty of medicine.

-Brady Griffith, PA-C