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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Making a Difference...

Read these 9 profiles about PAs who have been nominated by their peers as representative of the great work performed by Certified PAs.

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Jason Perrin, PA-C

September 11, 2017

University of Maryland Medical Center, Midtown Campus
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Certified PA Jason Perrin makes a difference

During a time of transition at his hospital, the modus operandi of Jason Perrin, PA-C is to adapt to meet the needs of the moment. Whether rushing to the bedside of a patient or the side of a co-worker, he goes above the call of duty to extend additional care and support to everyone on his team.

Perrin, a seven-year veteran of the hospitalist team, provides continuity for incoming medical staff and augments functional needs to ensure operations run smoothly. For instance, Perrin assists nurses and nurse technicians to move or transport patients or may take on extra patients on a floor he may not be covering. He goes out of his way simply because “it’s his job” and he knows greater cooperation among providers improves hospital operations, boosts productivity and yields better patient outcomes.

“I don’t think of it as helping a nurse; I’m just helping a friend out,” he said. “Our hospital is going through an administrative transition, so a lot of staff has shuffled around. With new hires who are new to their professions and our hospital’s protocols, I take time with them to help them acclimate to their roles.”

On a typical day, Perrin can be seen rounding a hospital floor, emergency room or intermediate care unit treating patients with chronic and acute illnesses. He also works in tandem with the hospital’s chief medical officer to help execute organizational priorities and distill new clinical policies to medical staff. Perrin transcends his clinician role at the hospital – admired for his considerate, accommodating manner and his willingness to extend a hand.

Impact

“Jason is a caring individual, and it shows in his work,” said Elvira Reynolds, a licensed practical nurse at the hospital. “His excellent bedside manner helps relieve patients of anxiety and makes my nursing job easier. He simply makes others around him better by constantly giving encouraging words or support, and he is called upon by many to get the job done right the first time.”

Perrin earns this reputation because he knows there’s more to professional relationships than giving direction. If he forms friendships with colleagues, he contributes to creating a better work environment.

“Helping nurses helps me,” he said. “I love the nurses. A good nurse makes your shift easy.”

With patients, forming friendships is an even greater priority because strong patient-provider relationships can ultimately determine outcomes.

“If they feel they’re talking to a friend instead of a PA, they are more comfortable revealing information,” he said. “If I’m speaking their language, I can relate to them on a more personal level and open a better line of communication.”

These friendships enrich his work as a PA, a profession which humbles him for placing so much responsibility in his hands. He lauds its professional rewards but knows that high expectations will remain from fellow providers who rely on his expertise and patients who entrust him with their care.

NCCPA salutes Jason Perrin, PA-C, for exemplifying servant leadership.

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Kristen Giltinan, PA-C

September 18, 2017

Colorado Psychiatry Center
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Certified PA Kristen Giltinan makes a difference

Kristen Giltinan, PA-C, has been a PA for almost 17 years, including eight years specializing in psychiatry. She became a PA to serve the community and started out in family practice and emergency care. Her passion for psychiatry is personal: Giltanan is very open about the fact that three of her five children, have autism, ADHD and anxiety. When her first son was diagnosed, treatment options in her area were few. She recognized a need, and psychiatry became her passion.

Giltinan works at the Colorado Psychiatry Center where she sees 18-21 patients a day ranging from children, adolescents and adults. Prior to this center opening, it could take months for a patient to be diagnosed and treated, but as the original PA on staff, she sees new patients within a week instead of months. This is particularly important in the diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents on the autism spectrum. Giltinan specializes in ADHD and treating autistic patients, as well as helping patients and their families through their journey of becoming mentally well and whole again.

Now a senior PA at the center, Giltinan has had a positive impact on over 3000 patients and their families' lives. She strives to deliver the utmost care with dedication and compassion to every patient and family she encounters. As part of her diagnosis and treatment plan, Giltinan actively participates in making algorithms for psychiatric care of patients, especially autistic patients, based on scientific evidence. She especially likes treating patients and their families with autism spectrum disorder and became MAPS certified (Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs) in the spring of 2017 - continuing her expertise in helping patients with autism spectrum disorder from a naturopathic perspective.

Colleague Meredith Hammond, a children's therapist, says: “Kristen has been a tremendous resource and support for my clients! She takes a holistic view of each patient and goes the extra mile when collaborating care with other providers, parents, and schools.”

In addition to her regular office hours, she willingly takes emergency calls even when not on call and in doing so has saved six lives by getting emergency authorities to patients having emergent suicidal or homicidal ideations while keeping the parties calm and on the phone until help arrives. Giltinan feels that treating psychiatric patients is a team effort not just with the patients’ involvement and input, but also with the help of the other office staff she works with. Giltinan says she would not be able to do what she does without the excellent training she received from the CHA/PA program at the University of Colorado, the specialty psychiatric training she received from Dr. Ron Morley and the naturopathic support she receives from Dr. Mike Mullin.

Impact

Giltinan’s goal is enabling families to get back to normalcy by helping them learn about their mental illness, how to handle life situations and destigmatize their situation. “Re-instilling hope for them in a time of need is so rewarding,” she says.

Giltinan was named PA of the Year in 2012 by the Colorado Academy of PAs. She earned a Master's Degree in PA Studies from CU and is currently a preceptor for students at that program. She became one of the first Certified PAs to receive a Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) in Psychiatry in 2013 and now serves as an item writer for PANRE and NCCPA’s Psychiatry Specialty Exam.

She says she feels blessed every day to be doing a job in psychiatry that she loves to do. To be trusted with the care of something so precious as the brain of the patients that she cares for is “truly an amazing thing.”

Giltinan and Dr. Morley, owner of the Colorado Psychiatry Center, are currently working to open a new autism clinic called Autism Allies to serve severely autistic patients that will complement the center’s work.

NCCPA salutes Kristen Giltinan, PA-C, for changing and saving lives of those with mental illness.

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Meredith "Ditty" Bannon, PA-C

September 25, 2017

Huntsman Cancer Hospital
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Certified PA Ditty Bannon Makes a Difference

In 2011, Ditty Bannon, PA-C, was among the very first hired at the newly-established oncology intensive care unit at Huntsman Cancer Hospital, a nationally-recognized cancer research hospital. It is the only oncology ICU in the state of Utah. Bannon onboarded at a time when physicians and administration weren’t sure how to fully utilize PAs in the ICU setting, but in a few short months, Bannon and her team proved just how valuable they could be.

Previously, all cancer patients were transported to medical or surgical ICUs, but there was a need to establish an oncology-specific ICU to address cancer patients’ unique needs. Bannon quickly ascended the ranks, and under her leadership the oncology ICU grew from four full-time advanced practice clinicians to 13, including nine Certified PAs and four nurse practitioners. They work around the clock to treat critically ill patients from Utah and the surrounding states of Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada and Colorado. Bannon and her team are equipped to do it all: from endotracheal intubations to central lines to thoracentesis. Over the years, the team has grown more autonomous (a team member always carries the code pager in the hospital), and they are endowed with a high level of responsibility.

The team also supported the opening of additional beds at a sister ICU at the University of Utah Hospital. The team now functions as a “super group” in which all providers float between the oncology ICU at Huntsman and medical ICU at the University of Utah. There are also plans to hire another 5-7 PAs or NPs over the next five years.

“Our team is recognized for being highly organized and self-directed,” says Bannon. “The team has garnered an outstanding reputation among hospital physicians and administration. I credit our success to the caliber of our medical professionals who strive to deliver excellent care during every patient interaction.”

In August 2017, Bannon became the residency director of the critical care oncology group. Though she’s not working clinically full-time, she draws on years of practice and experience working in the oncology ICU where she earned praise as a skillful clinician.

“She values each person's decisions and wishes,” said colleague Lorie Hutchison, PA-C. “If a patient's goal is to stop their struggle and die with dignity and respect, she is a master at helping the family and patient through that decision. She makes every effort to ensure that the patient dies without pain or anxiety, and ensures the family is supported and understands the process.”

Impact

Bannon is passionate about end-of-life care and helping people navigate tough decisions. Because it’s normally a medical crisis if a patient ends up in the ICU, she knows patients and families are often having their hardest days, and anything she can do to ease their concerns is the most meaningful part of her job.

“It’s a very emotional, challenging job, but I’ve learned over the years how to cope with it,” she said. “I enjoy helping people have a dignified death. Families express a lot of gratitude for everything you’ve done for their family member.”

She adds, “We pay high attention to the psycho-social needs of patients and families. We pride ourselves on being goal-directed and having a holistic treatment plan for patients.”

Outside of patient care, Bannon has precepted medical students who rotated through the unit. She turned precepting into a powerful recruiting tool and hired six former students. Bannon has also developed a pulmonary lecture series for the PA students at the University of Utah.

In her new role, she plans to continue to grow the residency program to generate a staffing pipeline and to offer critical care training. A few initiatives include expanding the current residency to develop an accredited didactic curriculum for students, and hiring and training more residents then previous years.

“Part of being a good leader is leaving a legacy, and I’m glad I can mentor new leaders and still work as part of the leadership team,” she said.

NCCPA salutes Ditty Bannon, PA-C for demonstrating leadership and the value of Certified PAs in critical care.

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Christine Bruce, PA-C

October 2, 2017

Pennsylvania State University
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Certified PA Christine Bruce makes a difference…

Under the direction of Christine Bruce, PA-C, students at the Pennsylvania State University PA Program have a 99 percent program completion rate, 100 percent first-time PANCE pass rate, and 100 percent employment rate as Certified PAs within four months of graduation. As the university’s first PA program director, Bruce leads with a vision of inclusiveness and a track record of success.

The program’s holistic application review process weighs a litany of factors beyond students’ grades, resulting in a student body that is reflective of today’s diverse society. A significant number of students are first-generation college students, veterans, educationally or environmentally disadvantaged, or from a medically-underserved community. In fact, the most recent graduating class was two-thirds male, who now join a workforce overwhelmingly female (68%). These diverse students are most likely to return to medically underserved areas and practice in high demand areas of medicine.

Thirty-eight years ago, Bruce began her professional journey unlike many PA students today. She enrolled at the St. Francis University PA Program, a program that accepted students directly from high school. After 13 years of working clinically full-time, she decided she wanted to make an impact on the next generation of PA students and became the inaugural program director at DeSales University. Before the existence of the DeSales PA program, employment opportunities for PAs in that region were largely non-existent. However, PAs today celebrate a successful partnership in local healthcare.

“As an educator, she has always been constantly engaging and challenging to the students,” said colleague Kenneth D. Sherry, PA-C, CPAAPA. “Her commitment to excellence is unparalleled. The success of her program’s endeavors at DeSales included years of accolades and successful NCCPA initial certification exam results for that program’s PA new graduates.”

Impact

Bruce and her colleagues work to ensure students’ passion for the profession remains strong throughout the program. They attribute the program’s success to team-based learning and the focus on medical case studies that require students to rely on their problem-solving skills. These immersive techniques help students absorb complex information more quickly in a collaborative environment.

“Christine’s strong commitment to provide each student with an individually-tailored educational experience that maximizes their strengths and corrects or compensates for their deficiencies has produced hundreds of students who perform at a high level of clinical competence and with great compassion,” said Dr. Edward Jones, MD, MPH, an academic coordinator and assistant professor at Penn State. “She has made an effort to recruit a diverse group of students and to look past the traditional student selection criteria to find people with great potential that has yet to be fully realized.”

Outside of instruction, Bruce works part-time clinically in internal medicine to remain medically adept and bring relevant, real-life cases to the classroom. While treating patients strengthens her expertise, it also reminds her of one of the most important competencies for practicing medicine: mastering people skills.

“To be an excellent provider you have to connect with patients,” she said. “Having medical information doesn’t make you a good provider – it’s transforming that information into a clinical setting. To do so, providers must listen to their patients. I emphasize the importance of listening skills because the more you listen, the better diagnostician you become.”

Throughout her impressive career, Bruce has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the promotion of the profession both locally and nationally. Moreover, her passion for students and patients is evident in her willingness to serve. For over a decade now, she has precepted students in inpatient and outpatient settings, and has served on test writing committees and several PAEA committees. This includes PAEA’s Faculty Development Institute, the Leadership and Recruitment Council, and the Awards and Recognition Committee.

“I am proud to be a PA, and I feel blessed that there is a career in which I can make a difference in both my students' and my patients' lives,” said Bruce. “I have the best of both worlds, and I take these roles very seriously. I recognize that I am entrusted with great responsibility, and I hope to represent this profession until I retire.”

NCCPA salutes Christine Bruce, PA-C, for promoting the importance of diversity and inclusiveness in the success of PA education.

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Maj. Karen Salyars, PA-C

October 9, 2017

Air Force
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Maj. Karen Salyars, PA-C, Makes a Difference

When asked why she loved being a PA in the Air Force, Major Karen Salyars, PA-C, says it’s because she loves “caring for those who serve our country.”

Maj. Salyars always knew she wanted to serve others. When she graduated from PA school in 2003 as an Army PA, she was immediately deployed to Iraq. After a second deployment during the early months of her daughter’s life, she decided that continuing serving in the Army wasn’t the best option for her family. Maj. Salyars left the Army in 2007 and practiced in dermatology and family practice for a few years. However, she felt something was missing. She still had the desire to serve her country and to “be a part of something bigger,” so she joined the Air Force, where she has proudly served since 2010.

Maj. Salyars now works in flight medicine and is the commander of a flight medicine clinic in Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of the clinic, she also treats between 45-50 patients per week. The patients at this clinic include “flyers” – anyone who is part of the aircrew of the C-5 and C-17 aircraft on Dover AFB. This particular set of patients is required to undergo “more rigorous physical exams because of their positions,” says Maj. Salyars. For example, “if they’re experiencing dizziness, they can’t fly.” It’s her job to ensure the flyers can safely carry out their duties. “We have to make sure to dig deep, perform thorough exams and uncover any underlying, chronic issues that may be causing superficial symptoms to keep them at their best.”

Impact:

In her 17 years of service to the Armed Forces, Maj. Salyars has valued serving others. As a PA in the Air Force, she says she “especially loves seeing patients who are retirees and vets. They have such amazing stories, and to be able to care for someone who served this country and their families is an incredible honor.”

In addition to her important role in the clinic, Maj. Salyars is the president of the Society of Air Force PAs (SAFPA) and a former instructor at the Interservice PA Program (IPAP), where she has had an impact on many future PAs. One recent graduate says Maj. Salyars exhibits all of the qualities of an exemplary PA and has been a true model of the kind of PA she wants to be. “Her dedication and compassion that she puts in to patient care and teaching are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to who she is as a PA and as a person,” says former student Laura Fuller, PA-C. “She is who I strive to emulate as I go forward in my career as a PA.”

NCCPA salutes Maj. Karen Salyars, PA-C, for serving this country as a dedicated and compassionate Airman and Certified PA.

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Keith Hustak, PA-C, MPH

October 16, 2017

Spectrum Health
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Keith Hustak, PA-C, Makes a Difference

Keith Hustak, PA-C, worked clinically in primary care and orthopaedic surgery for eight years, prior to deciding he had a different mission. Although he enjoyed patient care, he wanted to make a difference at the healthcare system level where he could be involved in decisions affecting policy and procedures.

He says: “I questioned the decisions of the organization I was working for at the time, and I had suggestions that were not being considered seriously. So, I decided to earn my MPH with a goal to get into leadership, where I thought I could make a difference in the wider healthcare community.”

While still working as a PA, Hustak traveled from Kentucky to Ohio for two years to earn his Masters of Public Health degree from Ohio State University.

He and his wife, Melissa Hustak, PA-C, moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan to be closer to family. There Keith was hired as a PA at Spectrum Health, a healthcare system that is also the largest employer in Western Michigan and includes 12 hospitals, and multiple treatment facilities, urgent care centers and physicians’ practices, as well as its own health plan.

Spectrum has had tremendous growth in the last five years, which aligned with Hustak’s plan to move into operations. During the last four years, he has held positions as operations specialist, director of operations, corporate director for physician alliance and now VP of advanced practice provider (APP) services. Spectrum has over 700 APPs, which by their definition includes 375 PAs and also those who work as NPs, audiologists, optometrists and psychologists.

“As the workforce is evolving, APPs are on the front lines of care,” Hustak says. “Spectrum wanted to make sure APPs work at the top of their competency and make sure that their voice is heard. My role is to break through barriers to hire the right people, onboard them so they are welcome and secure, and make sure they are properly utilized, recognized and retained. I want to improve APP satisfaction as we all know that happier and inspired providers deliver higher quality care to patients.”

“Keith models the combination of humility, self-doubt, restless curiosity, and courage to explore beyond accepted boundaries to drive the organization to relentless improvement despite colleagues’ preferences for stability and familiarity,” says Dr. Seth Wolk, system chief medical officer at Spectrum Health. “At a time when organizational survival requires disruptive change, leadership requires inspiring others to act in unfamiliar and often unwelcome ways.”

Hustak has a five-point plan to create what he calls a “super workforce.”

1) Recruit: solidify strong partnerships with top programs and recruit heavily from these schools.

2) Mentor: build a mentoring program that allows APPs to be mentored and trained by more seasoned providers in those critical first two years at Spectrum Health. This will allow APPs to eventually see more complex patients, improving access.

3) Support: Embrace team-based care by solidifying the roles and responsibilities of all providers in a care space.

4) Recognize: Educate Spectrum employees and patients about APP value and abilities and reward individuals who make a significant difference.

5) Retain: Hire PAs and others who will want to spend their entire career at Spectrum by giving them a voice, making them feel valued and allowing them to do the things they went into healthcare to do.

To support this plan, Hustak created a career path framework to encourage continuous growth of APPs throughout their career. He developed a mentorship program to help guide mentoring clinicians, so they can reassure new providers, and reassess new graduates during their first two years in clinical practice.

Colleague Sue Laham, PA-C, says “Keith has been vital to the advancement of APPs at Spectrum Health. His leadership on our Career Path Workgroup led to the formation of a new leadership structure allowing APPs to report to a fellow APP instead of an office manager, as well as ensuring that APPs have a voice in all critical decisions. His transparency and enthusiasm are creating positive changes in the culture of our system by focusing on work/life balance, mentorship and team based care.”

Hustak still works part time as a PA-C some nights and weekends doing primary care through virtual visits. He says, “It’s important to me to be grounded in patient care and understand the challenges of my colleagues.”

Hustak is actively engaged with various organizations throughout the country to share his ideas and learn from others who are also promoting success of PAs and NPs.

“When a PA or other APP starts their career at Spectrum, I want them to have good work/life balance, benefit from a strong mentorship program, receive fair compensation, and have the opportunity to grow so that they will spend their career here.”

NCCPA salutes Keith Hustak, PA-C, for promoting the success of other PAs.

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Richard (Rick) C. Rohrs, PA-C, DFAAPA, SFHM

October 23, 2017

Lifebridge Health
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Rick Rohrs, PA-C, Makes a Difference

“Richard C. Rohrs is one of the most accomplished leaders in the PA profession both on the state level as well as nationally,” says James F. Cawley, who met Rohrs when they were both at Johns Hopkins School of Health Sciences.

Rohrs was working as a hospitalist PA with Northwest Hospital, part of Lifebridge Health, a large health system in central Maryland, for 20 years before there was a name for it - much less a designated specialty. After many years of doing the job, he was instrumental in introducing a formalized hospitalist program in the late 1990s at Northwest. The program has since grown so much that today nearly 90 percent of all patients utilize the hospital medicine service. There are nearly 300 PAs in the LifeBridge system, which includes four hospitals. Over 100 PAs practice at Northwest Hospital, including seven hired just this year.

Currently Rohrs is assistant vice president for provider operations at Northwest Hospital. In this role, he has administrative oversight for physician, PA, and NP services in anesthesia, surgery, hospital medicine, critical care, emergency department, hospice, and imaging. Over the past 40 years, he has built the PA staff at this institution where he began as a hospital medicine clinician.

In addition to his clinical career, Rohrs contributes his time and knowledge both on the state and national level. He has served as president of the Maryland Academy of Physician Assistants (MAPA), the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), and the NCCPA. In 1997 while he was president and Board chair of NCCPA, he also served as interim executive director. Rohrs has served the Board of Directors of the PA Foundation and is currently its immediate past president. In Maryland, he was one of the early leaders of MAPA and for years has served on the Legislative Committee working to advance PA practice statutes and regulations.

Rohrs has also been very active in the international development of the PA profession serving at the first chair of the AAPA International Affairs Committee. He has consulted with Great Britain, Netherlands, Taiwan, South Africa and others on the utilization of PAs in their health systems. He has led delegations to China, Brazil, and most recently Cuba. In addition to this, he has volunteered with Peacework International in Ghana, where he and other healthcare professionals offered primary care services to as many as 400 patients a day in both rural and urban settings.

One of Rohrs' passions is patient experience and delivering compassionate care. “It is said that too often our only focus is ’finding out what is the matter with the patient, when we also need to be asking, what matters to our patients.’ Understanding not only the illness but the entire patient situation will always yield better outcomes,” says Rohrs.

For all he has done to promote and advance the PA profession, NCCPA salutes Rick Rohrs, PA-C!

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Krisi Gindlesperger, PA-C

October 30, 2017

US Acute Care Solutions
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Krisi Gindlesperger, PA-C, Makes a Difference

Krisi Gindlesperger, PA-C, sits at the forefront of emergency medicine PAs, holding senior-level positons on several PA and specialty boards, and chartering educational programs that impact not only Certified PAs, but also other advanced care providers.

Gindlesperger’s passion for the specialty formed on the pure adrenaline of working in a fast-paced emergency department. She enjoys the unpredictable nature of facing a variety of problems and patients, and treating a span of acuity, and sometimes life-threatening, medical problems. For seven years, she’s brought this passion for emergency medicine to US Acute Care Solutions (USACS), a national leader in the delivery of acute care services. In addition to caring for patients, she has developed educational programs to improve quality care issues for her fellow EMPAs. This included leading a team that developed the Advanced Practice Provider (APP) Academy, a two-year onboarding program that ensures EM APPs are prepared to provide equal levels of high-quality care to all USACS’s patients. As a clinician willing to embrace greater responsibilities, she has served in a number of leadership roles.

In her past role as SEMPA President, she worked closely with professional organizations on issues surrounding practice laws, scope of practice, advocacy and education, among other opportunities for collaboration. In 2016, she co-chaired the APP Interface Committee of the National Clinical Governance Board of USACS. In this capacity, she helped to develop and establish a comprehensive National APP program for the company. Shortly thereafter, she was named, Vice President, National Director of Advanced Practice Providers for USACS where she oversees a growing network of over 1,000 APPs and the delivery of emergency medicine services throughout the country.

“I’m so passionate about our profession and leadership development,” Gindlesperger said. “I want to be part of moving the company forward and watching people grow in their clinical and administrative skills. I thrive on leadership and want to see all the people leading work to their highest potential.”

Gindlesperger is a full time administrator, while continuing to practice clinically a few shifts per month. She juggles her commitments to serve two communities: patients and professionals.

“I went into medicine to care for patients so even though I don’t practice clinically full-time, I do it as often as possible,” she said. “If I can draw on clinical experience, it also makes my contributions as a leader more relevant.”

Brian Horgan, PA-C, a colleague says, “Krisi has worked diligently during her career to make a difference for her patients, her colleagues, and her profession. She has aspired to the highest levels of achievement in every aspect of her career. She is an outstanding example of what the PA profession is all about and she clearly embodies the best of what it is to be a Certified PA.”

Gindlesperger is highly regarded for creating a thriving and rewarding work environment for PAs under her direction through educational and professional development opportunities. She enjoys serving her community of professionals, and treasures the opportunity to improve the health of patients and the profession she loves.

“Krisi is passionate about every aspect of her career, but more than that, she is a great person,” said Horgan.“She is a caring, likable and a fun-spirited individual who works well with everyone. She is admired, loved and valued by both patients and colleagues alike.”

NCCPA salutes Krisi Gindlesperger, PA-C, for leading on all frontiers of emergency medicine and administrative medicine.

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Kurt Tengberg, PA-C

November 6, 2017

Abrazo West Valley Campus
Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C)
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How Kurt Tengberg, PA-C, Makes a Difference

Kurt Tengberg, PA-C, approaches medicine following Hippocrates belief to “cure sometime, treat often and comfort always.” As an emergency medicine PA, Tengberg realizes that he won’t be able to “fix” every patient’s problem, but knows how to cover them in comfort by engaging, teaching self-care and listening to their concerns.

At the Abrazo West Valley Campus in Phoenix, Tengberg works in a busy Level One trauma center that sees about 55,000 patients annually. Like most emergency medicine PAs, Tengberg treats a full gamut of conditions that range from trauma injuries to abdominal pain to drug intoxication. For the variety, Tengberg believes emergency medicine packages all the medical specialties into one.

“I’m an adrenaline type of guy so I like the pace of working in an ER,” he said. “You see people at their worst and when you’re able to improve their condition, it’s very fulfilling.”

Tengberg’s medical roots largely resemble the military origins of the PA profession. In the 1980s, he joined the Navy as a Corpsman and later utilized his medical training in the Air Force. He worked as a medic in the emergency department and eventually became a PA through the Air Force’s PA school, where he practiced family medicine for eight years. After his retirement from the military, he returned to the dynamic environment of working in an ER.

For the past four years, Tengberg has conducted emergency medicine rotations with about 40 PA students from Midwestern University. He’s also lectured at the university on subjects of trauma and urology-related emergencies. Since the ER climate is a melting pot of education, he incorporates the expertise of his colleagues to bring the classroom to life. It is in the active halls of the ER where Tengberg seeks cases that affect students’ understanding of complex medical concepts.

“I think what the students need to learn is the art of medicine,” he said. “I like to engage and captivate the students with real-life cases and especially enjoy those ‘a-ha!’ moments.”

Tengberg also teaches students to remain inquisitive throughout their careers. Since medicine progresses based on improved information and evidence, students must always adjust what they know through regular self-study.

“Medicine is a lifestyle that requires substantial dedication and time,” he said. “There are always new medicines and treatment plans that change how providers practice.”

Tengberg’s guidance especially impacted former PA student, Lena Miraglio, PA-C, who attributes his leadership on motivating her to remain committed through the most demanding phases of her PA education.

“Kurt never stops teaching, explaining or answering questions, and always encourages students to remain confident in themselves – something we all need as students,” said Miraglio. “He is intelligent, motivated, hard-working, selfless and humble, all of which are reasons why he is liked and respected by his patients, students, and colleagues. Kurt just may be the smartest person I have met but that doesn't stop him from ever missing an opportunity to learn, ask questions, and continue his education.”

Ultimately, Tengberg’s impact resonates most resoundingly in the Hippocratic virtues he promotes, which will cycle through generations of clinicians and outlast changing medical knowledge.

NCCPA salutes Kurt Tengberg, PA-C, for motivating PA students through influential mentorship and education.

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