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Certified PAs are changing the face of healthcare today. They practice medicine, manage acute and chronic patients, perform complex procedures, prescribe medications and assist in surgery.

The PAs on this page have maintained certification by completing a substantial amount of continuing medical education and passing a rigorous national exam. Some of them have additional credentials as well. They are all skilled providers who share a common goal: to deliver the highest quality care possible to optimize each patient’s outcome and satisfaction.

If you are a patient or an employer, you will enjoy meeting each of them and reading their story.

If you are a PA and would like to share your information for this site, submit your profile here.

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Managing HIV

Sam Wijesinghe

Adventist Health Central Valley Network
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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Sam practices Family Medicine at Adventist Health Central Valley Network in California in a small, rural community. He is the HIV specialist in the office and has been an advocate for HIV testing throughout hospitals in his region. He is also a faculty member at Pacific AIDS Education & Training Center.

EDUCATION:

HIV/AIDS Clinical Fellowship UCSF, Fresno, Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS), Union College, M.S. in Management Information Systems, U. of Nebraska, B.S. in Health Care Management, Bellevue University

NCCPA CERTIFICATIONS & CREDENTIALS:

Certified physician assistant (PA-C)

AAHIVS - American Academy of HIV Specialist

Physician’s Quote:

“There is a lack of providers in Central California, particularly in rural areas, that are able to effectively manage HIV in a primary care setting and the PA is a viable solution to fill this gap in service. Under the supervision of a Physician, the Physician Assistant examines patients, orders and interprets tests, diagnoses and treats illnesses, prescribes medications, and counsels patients on preventive health care. The addition of an HIV specialty certification contributes to PAs’ ability to adequately provide this same scope of disease management and preventive care access to a group of patients that are in need of and have historically been marginalized in receiving quality primary care services.”

--Ivan Gomez M.D., AAHIVS

Read Sam’s blog below about making a difference in the fight against HIV. This blog was previously published in Physicians Practice.

Certified PAs Make a Difference in the Fight against HIV

About a year after I started practicing family medicine at Adventist Health in California, the medical director invited me to work with local counties as the HIV testing coordinator. The first patient I met was a little girl about my daughter's age who was born with HIV. This unwitting victim touched my heart, and that connection helped me realize that someone had to step up and get involved to help these patients.

At the end of my first year as the HIV testing coordinator, I was invited to do one-year HIV clinical fellowship at UCSF, Fresno, in the family medicine department. After completing the fellowship, I took a national exam and become credentialed as a Practicing HIV Specialist (AAHIVS). This is the same exam that physicians and nurse practitioners must pass to also earn the AAHIVS credential.

That being said, there is tremendous opportunity to make a positive impact on the fight against HIV within family practice without become a full-time specialist in this area. In fact, 90 percent of my own patients are still in family medicine, and I have a loyal patient panel typical of that specialty. Managing HIV patients is just 10 percent of my practice. All certified PAs in family medicine can make a big difference in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS. There are simple steps that can bring positive change to all communities.

• It starts with testing. The CDC recommends opt-out HIV screening for all patients 13 years old to 64 years old. That means the provider makes HIV testing routine along with other necessary screening labs unless the patient opts out. The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force recommends HIV screening for all patients 15 years old to 65 years old. This is a "grade A" recommendation. That means the net benefit is substantial with routine HIV testing. If the age seems too young, consider this: There are about 50,000 new cases every year and one-third of them are in the 13-year-old to 29-year-old age group. Many patients don't know they have HIV, and this age group is more likely to engage in risky behavior.

• It continues with education. Certified PAs are educated in communication skills. They know how to ask questions and deliver information about the disease, how to reduce the spread of infection and how to maximize the patient's own health and maintain wellness. Education leads to patient understanding about why treatment is important. Currently, only 30 percent of patients have viral suppression because the others are still undiagnosed, not linked to care, not taking medicine or not going to appointments. When patients are treated and the disease is controlled, there is a 96 percent reduction rate in transmission.

• It challenges all providers. There is still a stigma around this disease. Yet, you may already have HIV patients and don't know it. Estimates show 13 percent of the HIV population remains undiagnosed. If testing becomes routine, people talk about it, learn about it and stop fearing it. You just have to treat HIV patients like all other patients. Confidentiality is important and is already covered by HIPPA.

• In family medicine, treat it as just another chronic condition like diabetes or hypertension. Treatments have advanced greatly for HIV. Patients used to have to take three to four medications a day. Now it is just one pill and there are six choices for that pill based on patient history, kidney function, etc.

I encourage PAs to work with a physician already treating HIV patients. Once they have experience, they can manage medications and patients' long-term care on their own. Also, PAs can connect with the American Academy of HIV Medicine for tools and information, and make it point to direct some of the ongoing CME credits required to maintain PA-C certification in the area of infectious disease and HIV.

There is big shortage of HIV providers. A 2012 survey showed there were 4,500 HIV providers, and about 50 percent of them planned to retire in the next 10 years. The expectation is that primary-care providers will fill the void and care for HIV patients.

However, primary-care physicians are also in short supply and overburdened. We must remain vigilant and considerate about this disease. Certified PAs have always stepped up to the plate to fill the void in family medicine and underserved areas, whether it be caring for the homeless or Medicaid patients. Managing HIV patients is one more area where we can make a big difference.

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Caring for the Littlest of Patients

Lauren Donaldson

Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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Lauren has four years of experience as a PA in pediatric emergency medicine and care and support of abused children.

PERFORMS PROCEDURES INCLUDING:

Diagnoses various diseases and implements a plan of care in collaboration with a physician • Patient triage in the ED setting • Provides prescription medication and referrals to appropriate treatment modalities if needed • Review of abnormal labs and patient follow up • IV placement on children and adolescents • Performs acute forensic rape examinations in children • Performs pelvic exams on adolescents including use of colposcopy • Bladder catheterization • Laceration repair • Splint placement • Lumbar punctures • Endotracheal intubation • Interosseous IV placement • Conscious sedation

EDUCATION:

Masters of Health Sciences, University of Oklahoma • B.A. in Anthropology, University of Oklahoma

NCCPA CERTIFICATIONS & CREDENTIALS:

Certified physician assistant (PA-C)

Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in Pediatrics

“Lauren has become an integral part of the pediatric emergency medicine department. She is invaluable at providing patient care and is particularly talented with everyday pediatric procedures, such as suturing, LPs and splinting, and she performs them in a manner that is comforting to the patients and their families. Her background in not only general pediatrics but emergency pediatrics and that has been particularly beneficial to our pediatric emergency medicine group.” – John H. Stuemky, MD, FAAP

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Repairing Joints & Sports Injuries

Mark Wright

Maine General Medical Center in Augusta, Maine
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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Mark has over 20 years of experience as both a civilian and military PA. He is the lead PA in an orthopaedic practice with eight surgeons and six PAs at Maine General Medical Center in Augusta, Maine. He is also a Colonel and aeromedical PA in the Army National Guard specializing in aviation medicine.

PERFORMS PROCEDURES INCLUDING:

Has an office panel of patients for initial, pre-operative, post-operative and follow-up evaluations • Acts as first surgical assist in traumatic fracture procedures, joint arthroplasty and sports medicine procedures. His role as first assist moving between two operating rooms improves surgical productivity by approximately 50%. • Performs intra-articular joint aspiration and injections • Reduces non-operative fractures • Completes flight physicals and aviation waivers for the Army Aeromedical unit • Signs aviation medical recommendation for flying • Sutures superficial wounds • Performs arterial puncture • Debrides superficial wounds • Excises simple skin lesions • Inserts/removes drains • Performs venipuncture

EDUCATION:

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, Chicago Medical School • Graduate Certificate in Physician Associate Studies, Yale University School of Medicine • B.S. in Health Science, Charter Oak College

NCCPA CERTIFICATIONS & CREDENTIALS:

Certified physician assistant (PA-C)

Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in Orthopaedic Surgery

“Mark is the utmost professional, totally self-motivated and dedicated to the pursuit of mastering the art of patient care through self-learning and formal education. I value his technical skills and abilities.” – Anthony Mancini, M.D

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Saving Lives in Cardiac Care

Brad Ledzian

Florida Hospital in Orlando
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)

Brad Ledzian is a certified PA at Florida Hospital in Orlando. He has been certified for 13 years and has deep experience in critical care, cardiac thoracic surgery and transplant.

PERFORMS PROCEDURES INCLUDING:

• Conduit vessel harvesting (Open & Endoscopic Saphenous Vein & Radial artery) • Sternotomy, sternal re-entry, sternal/thoracotomy closure, Surgical first/second assist, Organ procurement for transplantation, Arterial line placement/removal, Intra-aortic balloon placement/removal • Central venous pressure line placement/removal • Pulmonary artery catheter (Swan-Ganz) placement/removal • Epicardial pacemaker management/setting, adjustment and removal • Intravenous pacer wire insertion/removal • Transcutaneous pacing & Cardioversion • Chest tube placement/removal, Thoracentesis • Pleurodesis • Nasogastric & feeding tube placement • Diagnostic ultrasonography

EDUCATION:

M.H.S., Advanced Physician Assistant Studies, Drexel/MCP Hahnemann University, Certificate of Surgical Residency Multidisciplinary Surgery, Norwalk Hospital/Yale University School of Medicine, B.S. Physician Assistant Studies, MCP Hahnemann University/School of Health Professions, B.A. Biological Sciences, Rutgers College, Rutgers University

NCCPA CERTIFICATIONS & CREDENTIALS:

Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C), Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery, Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in Hospital Medicine

"Brad is an extremely knowledgeable and highly skilled clinician who collaborates with our team to deliver advanced heart failure surgical treatment options. He is integral in both the operative and critical care unit settings, delivering compassionate and comprehensive care for patients that are a complex blend of physiology and technology. As his CAQ demonstrates, he is fully qualified to care for cardiothoracic patients, regularly performing the full complement of specialty specific duties and procedures.” - Scott Silvestry, M.D.

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Stabilizing Trauma Patients

Fred Wu

Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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Fred Wu is a certified PA and has 11 years of experience in emergency medicine and is the lead PA in an emergency department that treats over 90,000 patients a year..

AS PART OF HIS ROLE, FRED PERFORMS PROCEDURES INCLUDING:

Intubation, Central venous access, Lumbar puncture, Tube thoracostomy, Laceration repair, Paracentesis, Fracture/dislocation reduction, Incision and drainage, Arthrocentesis, ENT procedures

EDUCATION:

Masters of Health Sciences, Quinnipiac University

B.A., The Colorado College

Paramedic Education, UCLA-Daniel Freeman Hospital

NCCPA CERTIFICATIONS & CREDENTIALS:

Certified physician assistant (PA-C)

Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in Emergency Medicine

"I've worked with Fred Wu for the past 5 years, and I continue to learn from his extensive experience and knowledge of the literature on a daily basis. Fred is one of those clinicians who not only provides efficient care but quality care. Over the years, I have started to catch on to part of his "secret sauce"... he cares about his patients, and he is constantly reading and learning about the daily advancements in emergency medicine. From managing septic patients to placing his own central lines and chest tubes, Fred maintains a broad set of emergency medicine skills. In fact, he is usually one of the first to provide evidence-based articles when our department is having a discussion of certain clinical policies and practices. His CAQ in emergency medicine is a great way of allowing both patients and colleagues to know that when Fred evaluates and treats patients, he does so with an extensive background and experiences in the specialty of emergency medicine." – Wonki Chae, MD, MPH

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Increasing Patient Satisfaction

Jameka Riley

University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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Jameka Riley, PA-C, has 10 years of experience as a surgical and hospitalist PA. She is the lead PA of a hospitalist group at University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center where she developed a successful Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) initiative to improve patient satisfaction by approximately 40%.

AS PART OF HER ROLE, JAMEKA HAS THE FOLLOWING RESPONSIBILITIES:

Works closely alongside the hospitalist medical director and other hospital leaders to implement policies to further improve the hospitalist program • Coordinates quality initiatives to lower patient expenditures, improve throughput through the hospital, reduce readmissions, decrease avoidable utilization, satisfy core measure criteria, and reduce hospital acquired conditions • Develops and implements patient management plans, maintains patient medical records, and assists in continuity of care • Interprets laboratory results and diagnostic studies • Performs independent evaluations and treatment procedures in emergency situations

EDUCATION:

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

NCCPA CERTIFICATIONS & CREDENTIALS:

Certified physician assistant (PA-C)

Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in Hospital Medicine

“Jameka is an excellent PA. She is conscientious, compassionate, and committed to providing high quality, evidence-based patient care. She has developed and led a number of quality initiatives for our hospital, including a patient satisfaction initiative. Jameka is also committed to lifelong learning and is continually seeking opportunities to advance her knowledge and skills. I am very proud to have Jameka on my team!” – Ivelisse Michel, MD

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Caring for the Mentally ill

Nelae DeChurch

Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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Nelae has five years of experience as a certified PA working in outpatient psychiatry, providing consults at local hospital and various drug and alcohol treatment centers.

PERFORMS PROCEDURES INCLUDING:

Identifies acute and chronic mental health issues • Performs physical examinations and orders labs • Creates treatment plans in collaboration with a physician • Manages acute cases of psychosis or mania • Provides suicide and homicide risk assessment • Evaluates for any physiological reason for psychiatric symptoms • Utilizes extensive knowledge of psychopharmacology and prescribes medication • Utilizes genetic testing to determine medication response • Emphasizes nutrition and exercise as fundamentals towards mental health • Provides patient education from handouts to group lectures • Monitors weight and meal plans in patients with eating disorders • Provides a medical detoxification for patients with substance dependence • Administers intramuscular injections of opiate antagonists and long acting antipsychotics • Provides therapeutic support through motivational interviewing • Prescribes and monitors patients undergoing Trans cranial Magnetic Stimulation • Provides referrals for psychotherapy and higher levels of care when needed.

EDUCATION:

Masters of Physician Assistant Studies, Gannon University • B.S. in Health Science, Gannon University

NCCPA CERTIFICATIONS & CREDENTIALS:

Certified physician assistant (PA-C)

Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in Psychiatry

“PA DeChurch brings compassion, dedication, and an extraordinary clinical acumen to the team. She allows my practice to provide high quality care to a larger population of patients who would otherwise not have access to psychiatric care. She is organized, efficient, and arguably one of the best psychiatric medical providers within our region. She is absolutely invaluable beyond any sentiment that words could convey.” – Valeh Karimkhani, D.O.

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Performing Annual Wellness Checkups

Valery DeSimone

OptumCare Medical Group
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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Valery routinely sees Medicare patients for their Annual Wellness Visit at OptumCare Medical Group, an internal medicine practice in South Orange County, California. She also worked as a dermatology PA for eight years, and uses that experience in her day-to-day work in internal medicine.

EDUCATION:

Masters of Physician Assistant Studies, Yale University B.S. in Biology, University of California, Davis

NCCPA CERTIFICATIONS & CREDENTIALS:

Certified physician assistant (PA-C)

Physician's Quote

“As healthcare evolves, a provider’s role becomes more complex. Valery provides and augments the ongoing access to keep continuity of care flowing. She broadens office services, decreases the need for certain referrals and captures data and metrics which health plans now require for quality. The complexion of the office would be compromised by her absence.” --Vincent Duda, M.D.

Read Valery’s blog below on providing the Annual Wellness Visit for Medicare patients here. This blog was previously published in Physicians Practice.

Annual Wellness Visit is a Win-Win for Patient and Practice

By Valery DeSimone, PA-C

The annual wellness visit (AWV), funded by Medicare, is a special opportunity to communicate to your senior patient population and understand their needs at a deeper level, providing them a free opportunity to assess and advocate for their own health going forward.

I work in an internal medicine practice where over half of our patients have Medicare as their primary insurance. As a certified physician assistant (PA-C), I see several patients every week for this type of visit.

The AWV is not intended to be a typical appointment aimed at treating acute illness or chronic conditions. Rather, it is more of a discussion than an exam, focused on assessing the patient’s current health baseline and helping them understand how health maintenance and prevention will keep them out of the doctor’s office.

Building on this discussion, I can then coordinate care with specialists and provide continuity of care going forward. This visit solidifies this patient in your practice as they begin to understand it is their “medical home.” This is a visit that all seniors should have, even those who feel good and are not in need of health care at the moment – but they may need your encouragement to understand its availability and importance.

To make the most out of this visit, here are four questions to ask your patients when scheduling the AWV appointment:

1. Can you create a health history folder and bring it to your appointment? The appointment will go more quickly and be less stressful if the patient has already made a list of vaccinations, prior surgeries and dates. Your records probably don’t include that flu or shingles vaccine the patient got at the local pharmacy.

2. Can you bring a list of all specialists you have seen in the past few years? Many patients self-refer and may be seeing seeing a cardiologist, an ob/gyn, urologist etc. This list may bring to light medical issues that the patient hasn’t mentioned.

3. Can you bring in all prescriptions, supplements and over the counter medications in their original containers? This ensures you have the correct information on dosage and frequency and allows you to discuss any concerns about drug interactions or duplication.

4. Do you have an advanced directive? The AWV is a unique opportunity to discuss end-of-life issues. If they have one, scan it into their chart for use should the need arise. If they don’t have an advanced directive, you can give them one to fill out or take home to discuss with family. You are doing them a great service by provoking this discussion.

The AWV can be a vehicle to ensure early detection. It allows you to screen for early identification tests based on risk factors. However, it is important in this population especially to prioritize scheduling so the patient is not overwhelmed with a battery of follow up tests.

The AWV collects a significant amount of baseline data, so the first appointment can take an hour. As the name implies, it is an annual visit, and in subsequent years the appointment should be shorter.

Some physicians feel the reimbursement is too low for this comprehensive visit. However, if your practice markets the annual wellness visit effectively, it can provide additional revenue from new patients and cement your relationship with existing ones.

Certified PAs are highly-qualified to manage the annual wellness program in your office. We are highly educated, nationally certified and licensed by state medical boards. Studies show we provide high value as we deliver cost-effective, quality care.

Consider making the AWV a “best practice” for your office, and reach out to your senior population to offer them this Medicare-paid opportunity for better health.

About NCCPA

NCCPA is dedicated to serving the interest of the public. We do so with a passionate belief that certified PAs are essential members of the health care delivery team who provide millions access to more affordable, high quality health care.
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