Physician Assistant Program to present new class with white coats

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News Article

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School of Medicine & Health Sciences


GRAND FORKS, N.D.—Thirty-three 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. 16, in the Reed T. Keller Auditorium at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Kate Larson, PA-C, will present the keynote address, focusing on the role of the physician assistant in primary care. Larson, a UND PA alumna of the Class of 1995, is a practicing primary care physician assistant in Garrison, N.D. She also serves as treasurer for the North Dakota Board of Medical Examiners. Welcome remarks will be given by SMHS Senior Associate Dean for Education Gwen W. Halaas, MD, MBA; and Wayne Swisher, PhD, 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 Department Chair Jeanie McHugo, PhD. 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 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 PA Program admits health professionals who have years of experience working as nurses, respiratory therapists, radiology technologists, paramedics, military healthcare providers and related professions. This group averages nine years of previous professional healthcare experience upon matriculation into the program.

Enrolled students come from throughout the United States, from Idaho to Florida, but this particular class is very regional, with almost 50 percent of the students from the tristate area of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Students range in age from 26 to 52 years, with an average age of 35; the class includes 18 men and 15 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.

Physician Assistant Class of 2016

Derryk Allen , Mount Pleasant, Utah

Brittany Anundson , Bismarck, North Dakota

Andrew Bader , Nixon, Nevada

Allison Barnett , Douglas, Wyoming

Chad Briley , Kissimmee, Florida

Caitlyn Cameron , Hawley, Minnesota

Grant Coauette , Fosston, Minnesota

Kevin Conboy , Rapid City, South Dakota

Franchesca Cook , Kirksville, Missouri

Matthew Coy , Minneapolis, Minnesota

Kevin Davis , Justin, Texas

Jesse Fladmark , Woodbury, Minnesota

Cory Heiser , Tioga, North Dakota

Cory Jacobs , Wadena, Minnesota

Stephanie Jacobs Uselman , Fargo, North Dakota

Lacey Jandrin , Kaukauna, Wisconsin

Amber Johnson , Duluth, Minnesota

Brett Johnson , Deadwood, South Dakota

David (Ryan) Kesterson , Houma, Louisiana

Amber Kirtley-Perez , Boise, Idaho

Lane Lindeman , Florence, Wisconsin

Jennifer Polniak , Moberly, Missouri

Pamela Rangen , Rugby, North Dakota

Adria Ridl , Wahpeton, North Dakota

Patrick Riley , Superior, Wisconsin

Eric Sadler , Evansville, Indiana

Kristina Sandstedt , Columbia, Missouri

Jason Smith , Valley City, North Dakota

Whitney Thompson , Park River, North Dakota

Sarah Viscarra , Lawton, Oklahoma

Shannon Webster , Staples, Minnesota

Henry Woida , Pinconning, Michigan

Suzanne Zayan , Howell, Michigan