Jennifer Conner, PA-C

Jennifer Conner, PA-C, strives to enhance the face of PAs in dermatology through meaningful patient interactions and service to the dermatology community. Since beginning her PA career in 2006, she has emerged as a talented clinician and thought leader in the profession, and she continuously chases ways to expand community outreach, the footprint of PAs in dermatology and improve professional standards.

Conner’s unconventional path into dermatology began in the Army National Guard. After working as a medic and Medical Service Corps officer, she entered the U.S. Army Interservice PA program where she completed rotations under a dermatologist who imparted invaluable lessons and sparked her interest in the specialty. "He was an amazing mentor but tough,” she said. “I was drawn to dermatology because it’s an area of medicine that allows patients to physically see their transformations and involves a number of minor procedures as well.”

Conner now practices at Sonterra Dermatology where she performs a wide range of general dermatology and surgical procedures alongside her collaborating physician. But her impact doesn’t stop there. Her clinical career intersects with some of her philanthropic work for communities, children and fellow PAs in dermatology.

To open opportunities for PAs to get involved in a supporting critical research for viable melanoma treatments, in 2012, she spearheaded the Society of Dermatology PAs partnership with the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) for the Miles for Melanoma 5K program. She also served as president of the Society of Dermatology PAs (SDPA) and acted as a founding trustee of the Dermatology PA Foundation. She served as an MRF volunteer, offering free skin cancer screenings to Iron Man triathletes to bring awareness to the dermatology PA community; and she connected athletes, fans and spectators to the organization. Her involvement with MRF led her to establish an annual Miles for Melanoma race in San Antonio (where she practices) and in several cities across the country in coordination with SDPA conferences.

Impact

During her tenure as SDPA president, she oversaw the development and launch of its Diplomate Fellowship program, which is designed to offer new and seasoned dermatology PAs the full knowledge base needed to best serve patients in their specialty and complement training they receive from dermatologists. Under her leadership, fellow SDPA leaders launched a task force to investigate corporate buyouts in dermatology and the impact it has on PAs. She also helped to develop two PI-CME programs for dermatology PAs to conduct in their clinics. She has championed efforts to promote philanthropy, research and education – three main missions of the Dermatology PA Foundation (DPAF). Initiatives achieved thus far with the DPAF have included researching ways to ease patient access to care, increase dermatology PA involvement in local communities and patient advocacy groups, as well as hosting an inaugural silent auction that raised about $14,000 to send children with skin diseases to Camp Wonder in California.

"Jennifer goes above and beyond for the profession,” said colleague Joleen Volz, PA-C. “Despite having a family, she works tirelessly on multiple tasks and devotes a substantial amount of time to the national society. She solicits the opinions and expertise of her colleagues to inform her decisions, and that makes her a great leader.

Conner credits much of that capacity for leadership to personal and educational development opportunities in the military, but also a passion to enhance opportunities for PAs in a medical specialty she respects and enjoys.

“I love that our profession has grown and more patients understand what we do,” she said. “It’s great that we can offer better access to care for patients, educate patients and employers about what we do and offer a true extension of the healthcare team in collaboration with dermatologists.”

Through her platform, Conner will continue to rejuvenate ways to serve patients and the dermatology community.