New beginnings in the Physician Assistant Program

PA Program graduates its 17th class, welcomes 40 new students


August 14, 2013
The OHSU Physician Assistant Program graduated its 17th class on Saturday, Aug. 10. Several OHSU leaders representing the School of Medicine attended the event with the 36 graduates and their families and friends, including Dean Mark Richardson, M.D., MBA,
George Mejicano, M.D., MS, senior associate dean for education, and Allison Fryer, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate studies.

Two faculty members were honored by the graduates. Edward J. Keenan, Ph.D., professor of physiology/pharmacology and surgery and president of The Foundation for Medical Excellence , received the Excellence in Academic Teaching award. Ella Clark-Nicholson, MPAS, PA-C, instructor of family medicine and a 2006 OHSU graduate, received the Excellence in Clinical Teaching award.

Frances Biagioli, M.D., associate professor of family medicine and president of the Oregon Medical Association, gave the commencement address. Dr. Biagioli is a former medical director for the OHSU PA Program. Her message to the graduates focused on the importance of the work they will be doing as PAs. She also shared inspirational thoughts on how to stay energized and maintain enthusiasm for their work throughout their careers.

Student awards went to Mikal Burley for academic achievement, Amanda Heckman for excellence in the clinical year, and Karri Knodel for her demonstrated professionalism throughout the program.

Half of this year's PA graduates have already secured a position working as a PA. Of those, 67 percent of them will provide primary care, and 78 percent will remain in Oregon to practice. Of those still seeking a position, 59 percent report looking for a position in primary care and 41 percent hope to stay in Oregon.

Meanwhile, the PA Program welcomed 40 new students in its newest class. Seventy percent of the class – or 28 students – are female. Nineteen of the 40 students are Oregonians –48 percent. Kirsten Barrett Kuhn wrote about her first month as a graduate student in the PA Program on OHSU StudentSpeak.