Amy Hoger always knew she wanted to pursue medicine. In fact, she worked her way up from a junior volunteer to become an LPN, but after 12 years as a nurse, Hoger found that she wanted to do more for her patients. “I like to help people,” she says.
Over the course of her nursing career, Hoger was inspired and encouraged by several physician assistants. In time, Hoger set her sights on becoming a PA, and she went on a search to discover the best training programs in the country. She chose MEDEX Northwest, entering the 26-month program in 2001, graduating in 2003. “MEDEX prepared me well for my future work,” she says.
In addition to providing more sophisticated care to patients, Hoger’s other goal was to live in a place she really enjoyed. Originally from St. Cloud, Minn., she spent most of her adult life in Boise, Idaho, with her son and her husband, Kevin. It had been the couple’s dream to live in Alaska for some time, and when a PA position became available in Fairbanks in 2010, the family decided to take a chance, pack up their belongings and move north.
“I’ve always believed in the mission to serve.”
— Amy Hoger, PA-C
In Fairbanks, Hoger did two years in urgent care. Then, in November 2012, she accepted a position in Anchorage, some 350 miles south of Fairbanks. In partnership with the Department of Family Medicine’s residency program at UW Medicine, Providence Family Medicine Center in Anchorage hired her to provide care for 100 homebound patients — with the larger goal of expanding access to care in the five-state region of WWAMI: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.
Hoger is expanding access to care in a diverse community: Anchorage’s population is anything but homogenous. More than 100 languages and dialects are spoken there, including Native Alaskan, as well as languages from Europe, Africa and Asia. Hoger’s work with homebound patients brings her into daily contact with people from diverse backgrounds. Although she doesn’t speak another language herself — “I could use about five!” she says — Hoger manages quite well, a testament to her cultural competency and to family members who occasionally step in to interpret.
Like their languages, her patients’ conditions vary, too. Focused mainly on the chronically ill or those unable to leave home — most over 65 years old — Hoger treats chronic conditions such as COPD, diabetes and heart disease.
Hoger’s role in Anchorage includes more than patient care. She is one of two MEDEX-educated PAs placed through the residency program, part of a larger effort to integrate PAs into UW Family Medicine Residency practices throughout the WWAMI region. Hoger is on faculty, sometimes teaching in the classroom, working directly with trainees: medical residents and students, along with interns in social work, psychology and pharmacy. Often she must start by explaining her role as a physician assistant, and she takes the students on home visits, exposing them to the unique needs of her homebound population.
The move to Alaska has turned out brilliantly. Hoger is happy in Anchorage; her colleagues are collaborative, she feels valued, and she’s doing important work.
“This is the closest to my dream job as I’m ever going to find,” she says. “I’ve always believed in the mission to serve, and this position allows me to do just that.”