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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

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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!

Relocating for PA School

You did it! After a long, competitive application cycle you were admitted into a PA program. If you are attending a program that requires you to relocate, you likely have a long to-do list. Read on to hear what current students considered before making the move.

Nathan Kleppe, PA-S2: A North Dakotan moves South

Professional Headshot Photo of Nathan Kleppe“I knew that coming to a bigger city could include much heavier traffic than I was used to. I wanted to find a place close enough to campus so that I could avoid the major busy roads.” Nathan decided to not look for a roommate and knew an unfurnished apartment was best as he had his own furnishings. Once he found apartments that fit his criteria, he scheduled showings and made a weekend trip to see them.

Nathan was excited about the general experience of living somewhere new and all that it had to offer including new restaurants, parks, entertainment and meeting new people.

He encourages incoming students to look into health insurance options ahead of time. This is especially true if the student will not be covered under their parents’ or a significant other’s health insurance coverage. All admitted students are required to have health insurance while in the program.

Michael Kittok, PA-S1: A Minnesotan and his family relocate from Texas

Professional Headshot Photo of Michael KittokAlthough Michael is a Minnesotan, he and his family were living in Texas during the application process. “We started planning before I even found out I was accepted.” Together with his wife, they made a list of tasks that needed to be accomplished. Some of the major decisions included: finding a realtor for their home in Texas as well as one in Minnesota; the timing of when to start looking for a home; figuring out their budget; and being pre-approved for a loan before we moved.” In addition to all the logistical items of moving, his family was also leaving and there were emotional ties to their community there. Michael says, “We included our kids very early on after I was accepted. We were able to take full advantage of the Austin area and do the things we wanted to do before we moved.”

Prioritizing study time can also be a challenge when you are a parent. Michael says, “I have had to go outside the house to study which is actually a good thing, I think.” It is important to discuss with your family, significant others and even your friends that you will have less free time as you will need to study. Even during the clinical phase of a program, you will still need to study between your shifts to prepare for end of rotation exams.

Isaac Pierre, PA-S1: A Midwesterner moves back from Seattle

Professional Headshot Photo of Isaac PierreEven though you may be moving for school, it is important to take into account the things you enjoy. Maybe being within walking distance to coffee shops or restaurants is an important factor. Or perhaps you are hoping to save on expenses by living with a roommate. These are all aspects you should weigh when deciding where you’d like to live.

Isaac Pierre decided to first sublet a furnished apartment for the summer semester so that it would be an easier transition. He says, “It allowed me to focus on my studies and integrating into the new city rather than having to worry about moving or furnishing my apartment. Subletting also allowed me to visit apartments, gather furnishings, and get a sense for what neighborhood I wanted to live in before committing to a year-long lease.”

Isaac hails from the land of the Green Bay Packers. When he relocated to Seattle for work, he missed his family that reside in Wisconsin. He looked forward to being closer to them and engage with the community. Another asset of relocating to Minnesota is all the outside recreational activities. Isaac was excited to take advantage of the state’s biking and hiking opportunities, including a trip to the Boundary Waters during the summer break.

Victoria Tahmassebi, PA-S2: A Californian relocates

Professional Headshot of Victoria T.As a native Californian, Victoria fielded numerous questions about if she was aware how cold Minnesota can be. If you’ve never experienced windchill, it can be quite the adjustment. Although the cold weather was a concern of hers, Victoria was excited to move as she had never lived anywhere but California. She says, “I was excited to experience all the seasons in Minnesota and spend time on the lakes and just exploring a new city.”

Victoria opted to live with a fellow classmate who had a car. They decided to look into how far of a drive it was to campus as well as checking with their PA Buddies about what neighborhoods were the safest and closest to campus. A trip to Ikea helped to furnish their apartment with items they weren’t able to ship or move.

Although Victoria initially did not have a car, she decided to buy one as she frequently had to use uber. Victoria says, ‘I’ve learned that underground heating parking is worth the extra hundred dollars in the winter!”

Application Advice from PA Faculty

As thousands of students submit their applications for the current CASPA cycle, faculty at Augsburg PA Program have suggestions and reminders to keep in mind! Take their advice to heart as they all have been in your shoes.

Trent Whitcomb is a clinical phase faculty member who returned to Augsburg PA after a few years away. Trent is a graduate of Rosalind Franklin University of Health Sciences / The Chicago Medical School. His three tips to follow are:

  1. Do not, under any circumstances, ever refer to a PA as a Physician’s Assistant. My license to practice, NCCPA board certification, and diploma all state “Physician Assistant”. Use of the apostrophe tells admissions committee members that you haven’t done your research.
  2. Have several people review the essay portion of your CASPA application as well as any supplemental applications that are program specific.
  3. Research the programs you are applying to and know why you are applying for each program.

Vanessa Bester is our Associate Program Director who has been in PA education since 2007. She graduated from University of Florida’s PA program and came to Augsburg from the University of Washington. She advises prospective students to remember the following:

  1. Most people applying to PA school have excellent grades, want to help people, and have some clinical experience. So what is going to make the faculty reviewing your application remember you? Think about: How do you align with the program’s mission? Why do you care?
  2. As an interviewer, I ask: As a human being, when I meet you, could I see myself trusting you with my loved ones’ lives?

Program Director Alicia Quella graduated from the University of Iowa Physician Program and has worked in PA education for many years. Dr. Quella urges students to be yourself! We don’t want you to say something you think we want to hear. In doing this, be sure you do not copy our mission statement; instead think of how you align with our mission and how you demonstrate it.

Professor Eric Barth has been with the Augsburg PA program since 2008 and knows what it takes to get into PA school. He completed his physician assistant training at Trevecca University and University of Nebraska, Omaha.

  1. First, all applicants need to understand and articulate that becoming a PA is about providing genuine care for other people. There is no room for selfishness or ego.
  2. Secondly, for re-applicants, avoid recycling applications.  We all want to know what the you have done to improve your chances over the prior year.  In addition, I think it’s a sign of maturity to articulate how it felt to be denied admission the prior year.
  3. Last is to always keep moving towards their goal of becoming a PA.  Take or retake a class, get more patient care experience, go on a mission trip, job shadow, anything to improve your chances.

Professor Jenny Kluznik is alumni of the Augsburg PA program and came back as faculty and our academic coordinator. She advises “candidates to spend quality time on developing their personal statement and other essays required on an application for PA school. The personal statement and essays are the pieces of an application where the individuality of an applicant shows through. Applicants should take time to write these and fully represent their talents, goals, and background experience. Take time to write, rewrite, get feedback, and proofread.”

We wish you the best of luck as you all pursue your PA education!

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