Physician Assistant Program to present new class with white coats

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

School of Medicine & Health Sciences


GRAND FORKS, N.D.—Twenty-six health 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. 17, in the Reed T. Keller Auditorium at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Joycelyn Dorscher, M.D., associate dean for Student Affairs and Admissions, will present the keynote address, focusing on the role of the physician assistant in primary care. Welcome remarks will be given by Gwen W. Halaas, M.D., M.B.A., SMHS senior associate dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs, and Wayne Swisher, Ph.D., interim dean of the UND School of Graduate Studies.

"The presentation of the white coat is symbolic of the new profession the students are entering," said Jeanie McHugo, Ph.D., program director. 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 professional health-care 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 PA Program admits health professionals who have years of experience working as nurses, respiratory therapists, radiology technologists, paramedics, military health-care providers and related professions. This group averages seven years of previous professional health-care experience upon matriculation into the program.

Enrolled students come from throughout the United States, from California to Florida, but this particular class is very regional, with more than 50 percent of the students from the tristate area of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Students range in age from 25 to 52 years, with an average age of 32; the class includes 10 men and 16 women.

Students 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-preceptors. Over the next two years, they will return to UND for several weeks at different junctures for education and training.

Physician Assistant Class of 2015

Cristin Altendorf , Lubbock, Texas

Jody Bauer , Bismarck, N.D.

William Cody , Hayesville, N.C.

Jessica Curcio , Waterloo, Iowa

Lena DeLuca , Louisville, Ky.

Taylor Fontaine , Moorhead, Minn.

Tamara Hein , Willmar, Minn.

Austin Heneman , Fairmont, Minn.

Lindsay Kyte , Brookings, S.D.

Jessica Lahti , Hibbing, Minn.

Parker Martin , Oklahoma City, Okla.

Christina McOwen , Beaufort, N.C.

Brittany Michels , Fargo, N.D.

Ethan Morris , San Jose, Calif.

Kayla Olson , New York Mills, Minn.

James Ramos , Sioux Falls, S.D.

Morgan Reese , Bismarck, N.D.

Nicholle Rothengass , Merritt Island, Fla.

Jenna Schiefelbein , Sioux Falls, S.D.

Lindsey Siemens , Bottineau, N.D.

Troy Thompson , Sturgis, S.D.

Michael Trimble , Hermitage, Tenn.

Lucas VanEmelen , Millington, Tenn.

Heather Watkins , Dothan, Ala.

Sarah Winter , Fargo, N.D.

Randy Yergenson , Lake Arrowhead, Calif.