Kurt Tengberg, PA-C
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.