Department of Physician Assistant Studies to present new class with white coats

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

School of Medicine & Health Sciences


GRAND FORKS, N.D.—Thirty professionals begin the clinical portion of their studies next week to earn the Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The White Coat Ceremony is at 2 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 13, in the Charles H. Fee, MD, Auditorium at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Dustin Hager, MPAS, PA-C, will present the keynote address, focusing on the role of the physician assistant in primary care. Hager, a UND PA alumnus of the Class of 2010, is a practicing primary care physician assistant for Heart of America Johnson Clinic in Rugby, N.D. Welcome remarks will be given by SMHS Senior Associate Dean for Education Gwen W. Halaas, MD, MBA, and by UND Vice President for Research and Economic Development and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies Grant McGimpsey, PhD. Closing remarks will be given by SMHS Associate Dean for Health Sciences Tom Mohr, PT, PhD.

“The presentation of the white coat is symbolic of the new profession the students are entering,” said Department Chair Jeanie McHugo, PhD, PA-C. The coats will be worn by students through the clinical phase of their training and denote their involvement with the physician assistant program at UND.

The individuals in this class come from a wide variety of healthcare disciplines, which through class interaction will strengthen each student’s ability to return to his or her rural clinical site as a well-rounded primary care provider.

The Class of 2018 is the first group of students who have been admitted under a new admissions structure. The PA program has two methods of entry with separate criteria for admissions purposes. Entry Point 1 is designated for health professionals with at least three years of experience working as nurses, respiratory therapists, radiology technologists, paramedics, military healthcare providers, and related professions. Entry Point 2 is designated for applicants with science-based educational backgrounds and some healthcare experience working as a certified medical assistant, certified nurse assistant, physical therapist assistant, emergency medical technician, and others. Once admitted into the program, these students with various backgrounds further complement and add to the overall educational environment of the class.

Enrolled students come from throughout the United States, from Texas to Florida, but this particular class is very regional, with 67 percent of the students from the tristate area of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Students range in age from 22 to 49 years, with an average age of 31, the class includes 13 men and 17 women.

Students have completed their first two semesters of basic sciences and now will spend their first four weeks in Grand Forks before returning to their home communities, where most of their training will take place under the supervision of physician and physician assistant preceptors. Over the next 18 months, they will return to UND for several weeks at different junctures for education and training.

Master of Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2018

Leslie Anderson, Superior, Wisconsin

Kendra Apland, Rapid City, South Dakota

Kayla Ashton, Andover, Minnesota

Cody Baxter, Fargo, North Dakota

Brittney Benson, Bismarck, North Dakota

Ashley Bjornerud, Bemidji, Minnesota

Christina Brooks, Warren, Minnesota

Jordan Buchholz, Mandan, North Dakota

Jeanmarie Dahl, Larimore, North Dakota

Kelsey Daley, Hettinger, North Dakota

Stephen Drewel, Justin, Texas

Emmanuel Hernandez, Lubbock, Texas

Timothy Hovde, Morris, Minnesota

Jamie Johnson, Titusville, Florida

William Kucera, Bismarck, North Dakota

Cord Tanner Landrum, Ada, Oklahoma

Lawrence Duane Lee, Lakeland, Florida

Cynthia Mills, Tavares, Florida

Katherine Packulak, Fertile, Minnesota

Steven Pietrusza, Jacksonville, Florida

Darren Pledger, Fort Smith, Arkansas

Kailey Potratz, Hawley, Minnesota

Breanna Privratsky, Crookston, Minnesota

Larissa Reck, Cavalier, North Dakota

Ashley Schultz, Perham, Minnesota

Emily Stevenson, Beulah, North Dakota

Kayla Ternes, Beulah, North Dakota

Jamie Trautner, Felton, Minnesota

Mitchell Volin, Worland, Wyoming

Kate Whelan, Park River, North Dakota

For more information, please contact the PA program at (701) 777-2344, or visit



Denis F. MacLeod

Assistant Director, Office of Alumni and Community Relations

University of North Dakota

School of Medicine and Health Sciences

1301 N Columbia Road, Stop 9037 | Room W103 | Grand Forks, ND 58202-9037

701.777.2733 direct | 218.779.3107 cell