The OHSU Physician Assistant Program graduated its 23rd class (and 700th graduate!) on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, celebrating the occasion in the Robertson Collaborative Life Sciences Building on Portland’s South Waterfront. The PA Class of 2019 included 41 graduates – all of whom were in attendance to receive their degrees. The day was shared and enjoyed by family, friends, faculty and clinical preceptors from the community.
Ted Ruback MS, PA-C emeritus, associate professor emeritus, gave the commencement address. Recently retired, Ruback was the founding director of the OHSU PA Program and provided the vision leading to the program’s national reputation as a program of excellence. Ruback was recently honored by the American Academy of Physician Assistants, who chose him for the profession’s most prestigious recognition, the Eugene A. Stead Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition to welcoming the graduates to the PA profession, Ruback also shared a motivating message emphasizing the importance of service to patients, to colleagues and to the PA profession.
The program recognized Sharon DeHart, OHSU PA Class of 2001, as the Karen Whitaker Knapp awardee for 2019. The Karen Whitaker Knapp award is given each year in recognition of physician assistants whose clinical careers reflect a commitment to the rural and medically underserved communities of Oregon. DeHart is a founding provider at the Deschutes Rim Clinic and is currently clinic director and South Wasco County’s only full-time provider. DeHart was also awarded the 2018 Oregon Rural Health Hero of the Year by the Oregon Office of Rural Health.
Brianna Hanson, M.P.A.P., PA-C, assistant professor, OHSU Division of Physician Assistant Education, and core faculty member received the Excellence in Academic Teaching award. The James M. Ryan, M.D., Memorial Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching was awarded to three clinicians: Emily Jacobsen, M.P.A.S., PA-C, OHSU PA Class of 2004, and assistant professor of family medicine, along with community preceptors Dr. David J. Black with Kaiser Permanente Pediatrics in Vancouver, Wash., and Dr. Patrick J. McCarthy of Endocrinology Northwest in Bend, Ore.
Student awards went to Samantha M.L. Eshelman for outstanding academic achievement, Francisco Javier Peña for excellence in the clinical year, and Samuel George Rogers for demonstrating a high level of professionalism throughout the program.
The ceremony concluded with remarks from PA Class of 2019 student, Dorian Scull, and a video retrospective, sharing highlights from the students’ time in the program. Immediately following the ceremony, a river-view reception was held on the RLSB outdoor terrace; graduates, families, and friends enjoyed the lovely summer day.
At the time of graduation, 39 percent of the class had reported securing a PA position or were in the final stages of negotiation (73 percent Oregon, 20 percent Washington and 7 percent California). Of those employed and negotiating at graduation, 53 percent will be working in primary care (family medicine, internal medicine or urgent care). Ten students have accepted a position in a rural area.
The program faculty and staff are proud of the class accomplishments and wish the graduates well in their upcoming careers.