ClassNotesMEDEX Northwest

Seattle | Spokane | Tacoma | Yakima

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Michael Wilson, PA-C (Seattle Part-time Class 5), writes, “After graduating in 1997, I accepted a position at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center on the bone marrow transplant service. I remained at the Hutch until August 2004, then accepted a position to become the supervisor of midlevel providers in the bone marrow transplant program at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla. Our midlevel staff increased from 6 to 24 over the subsequent 11 years. During this period, I served as chair of the advanced practice professionals (APPs) special interest group in the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplant from 2009–2010. In December 2015, I returned to Seattle and Fred Hutch and accepted the position of associate director of APPs, adult BMT. I am involved in many projects, including expanding our transplant service by 10 APPs in an effort to revamp our staffing model.”

Gil Hash, PA-C (Seattle Class 12), writes, “After MEDEX Northwest, I worked in family practice for a while, and then did an emergency medicine residency at L.A. County/USC Medical Center. I spent my career in emergency medicine, including a stint at Henry Ford in Detroit. I was a volunteer firefighter and paramedic for 30 years. I am an instrument-rated private pilot and dive master, a published author and an acrylic artist as well as a great-grandfather two times over. I retired to the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2002.”

Bill Weiss, PA-C (Seattle Class 24), writes, “I decided long ago that I didn’t want to work in hospitals or cities. My niche for the last several years has been remote medicine in Alaska. This past summer’s job was in Skagway, Alaska — a town of about 700 to 800. This winter, I’ll be working on the island of Shemya, Alaska, a U.S. base all the way out at the end of the Aleutian Chain, much closer to Russia than the U.S. But my home is in Saipan, the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth in the Western Pacific. Among other places, I’ve worked in Guam, Afghanistan and Iraq. I could not have picked a better job. Being a physician assistant is what I love to do professionally, and it has given me all kinds of variety and travel opportunities.”

Carol Gahl, PA-C (Seattle Class 27), writes, “Forty was looming on the not-too-distant horizon when my husband and I moved our family to Spokane, Wash., in 1989. It was a career move for him. Yet to finish my degree, I had changed healthcare majors a couple of times between children and working as a musician. The move was the perfect time to dig in and make up my mind. While attending a class in Spokane, I saw a young medic reading a pale blue paperback with
MEDEX written in bold black across the front. That’s when I found out about physician assistants and the proverbial light bulb went off. The rest is history. Graduating in 1995, I’ve remained with my original family medicine site, Rockwood Clinic in Cheney. I now see patients 50 percent of the time and direct the Rockwood student health clinical services for Eastern Washington University and Washington State University-Spokane. It’s been a fulfilling career, and the light bulb is still burning brightly!”

David Ward, PA-C (Seattle 28), writes, “My education at MEDEX has served me well. I’m starting my 21st year of practice soon. I am married, living in Talty, Texas, which is just east of Dallas. I am covering a rural ER in Dalhart, Texas, working 10–14 shifts a month, 12 hours each. We have physician backup available, but the ER is covered by the physician assistant, which makes for interesting and challenging work. I just celebrated my 71st birthday. One of the most interesting things I have done in the past few years is to cover the clinic and ER at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. My wife and I were there for five months. Hope to hear from some of my classmates.”

Jay O’Neill, PA-C (Seattle Class 32), writes, “Most of my career has been spent working for the Department of Defense at Madigan Army Medical Center. I work in soldier care. I see soldiers and get them ready for worldwide deployment, then take care of them upon their return. I have an awesome wife, Angie, who works as a dental hygienist, and three great kids, ages 17, 14 (going on 30) and 10. I compete in the Scottish Highland games, where I am a two-time North American champion. My best event is the caber toss, or telephone pole throw, as most people know it. I also do blacksmithing and make custom cutlery.”

Lucca Criminale, PA-C (Seattle Class 39), writes, “I have been working at Cascade Medical in Leavenworth, Wash., since 2009, doing a combination of family practice, emergency medicine and inpatient care at a small critical access hospital. This combination is challenging and varied, two of my favorite things about my job. I have the good fortune of working with seven other physicians and one nurse practitioner, as well as helping with clinical rotations for both PAs and medical students. In my free time, I go outside! My favorite local pastimes include trail running, skiing and stand-up paddle boarding, preferably with my husband. I celebrated my 50th birthday by running 50 kilometers from Harts Pass to Rainy Pass on the Pacific Crest Trail in the North Cascades.”

Andrew J. Cahn, PA-C (Seattle Class 40), writes, “The bulk of my clinical work takes place at two emergency departments in the Seattle area. I have continued teaching part-time for MEDEX as well, a mixture of lecturing and precepting clinical-year students. I really enjoy staying connected to the program and working with students. I am on a disaster-relief medical team, and I have done work in Nicaragua, Haiti and Uganda in recent years. My free time typically involves an effort to get out for some skiing, kayaking or cycling, and a somewhat futile effort to learn Flamenco guitar. Kids are 8 and 9, and they get dragged up into the mountains or down rivers on various adventures. My wife is racing mountain bikes, and I’ve given up on trying to keep up.”

Daniel Patzer, PA-C (Seattle Class 40), writes, “It has been a whirlwind since graduating from MEDEX in 2008. I spent the first five years at UW Medicine in orthopaedic hand and upper extremity surgery, and have spent the last 3.5 years doing the same at Virginia Mason. I was divorced right after graduation (yes, I was part of that statistic), then I met my current wife (another PA) and married again. I was then diagnosed with testicular cancer, went through treatment and beat it. Since then, we’ve had three children, ages 4.5 (boy), 2.5 (boy) and 6 months (girl). They keep me busy, but I try to get a golf game in when I can.”

Jennifer Erickson, PA-C (Seattle Class 41), writes, “I’ve worked for six years in gastroenterology and hepatology in Enumclaw, Wash., specializing in celiac disease, hepatitis C treatment and end-stage liver disease. I also became a commissioned officer in the Washington State Army National Guard, where I continue to serve. With the military, I have deployed to Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, the Oso landslide and a community health engagement with the Royal Thai Army; I’ve also provided annual wildfire support. I recently began teaching at the MEDEX Tacoma campus. I am the mother of a wonderful 7-year-old boy. We love to hike, support local professional sports teams, play video games and watch Husky football!”

Jon Tardiff, PA-C (Seattle Class 42), writes, “Since graduating from MEDEX in 2010, I am happily working my dream job in primary care at Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center’s Beaverton clinic. We are a federally qualified health center and provide comprehensive medical care for refugees, homeless people, people with mental health challenges, undocumented immigrants, low-income people and others who have barriers to healthcare. I have taken on extra responsibilities, including developing expertise in transgender care and non-opioid chronic pain management, and I am a clinical preceptor for MEDEX’s, OHSU’s and Pacific University’s PA programs. My work as a physician assistant at Virginia Garcia is deeply rewarding. I often think of how MEDEX takes risks accepting non-traditional applicants such as myself — older, experienced, but no college degree — into the PA program. And how the MEDEX philosophy of high risk/high reward pays off with alumni like me, who dedicate their careers to working with underserved communities. I am grateful to MEDEX, and I thank them for giving me this wonderful opportunity to help patients who cannot get medical care elsewhere. I am so proud of UW and MEDEX Northwest!”

Ashley Brown, PA-C (Seattle Class 45), writes, “After school, I worked for a community health clinic in Edmonds, Wash. However, the mountains were calling, so we had to go. I took a job at Grand Teton Medical Clinic in Grand Teton National Park for the summer season of 2015. My husband and I bought a 22-foot travel trailer, and we moved to the park with our dog, Chunk. We then moved back to my hometown, Sun Valley, Idaho. I took a job at St. Luke’s Medical Center in urgent care, and I am back on the Sun Valley Ski Patrol part-time. We spend as much time outdoors as possible.”

Christopher Muldoon, PA-C (Seattle Class 45), writes, “I began working as a hospitalist in a rural, coastal Washington town. I spent two years working there and moonlighting urgent care in addition to volunteering with Seattle Mountain Rescue. Ultimately, the combination led to my being offered a position working as the winter PA-C at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. This coming winter, I will be at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station providing medical care and facilitating NASA research. I expect to return to the Seattle area in spring 2017.”

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Casey Wyatt, PA-C (Spokane Class 13), writes, “After graduation, I spent some time in Guatemala learning Spanish so I could start doing primary care at a community health center in Wenatchee, Wash. About half my patients are Spanish-speaking only. I love being able to offer people, in their own language, the tools to take control of their health, because very often they take me up on it, and they get better! My best four months of every year are in the fall, when I take on a preceptorship student from MEDEX. I love being there for all the firsts — the first suture tied, first chronic pain visit, first script written, first presentation to a grumpy on-call surgeon, etc. I also love making them chart everything — that is, ‘teach them to chart appropriately.’ When I’m not working, I like running, mountain biking, brewing beer and spending time with my family (though not necessarily in that order).”

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Tracie Alberts, PA-C (Tacoma Class 1), writes, “I couldn’t be happier with how things have gone since graduating from MEDEX. I am doing family practice in Puyallup. Presently, the scope for the use of physician assistants at my location includes further exploration of the PA’s role in obstetrical care. I love getting to know my patients before they are even born. Outside of work, I am continuing to stay physically active. I just completed my third Tough Mudder and my second sprint-distance triathlon. After all, I never want to ask my patients to do something I’m not willing to do.”

Nicholas Bozarth, PA-C (Tacoma Class 1), writes, “After school, I accepted my first job as a PA in my rural hometown of Napavine, Wash., where I did my family practice rotation. It’s the type of dream job I had envisioned long before attending MEDEX Northwest. During school, it’s easy to lose sight and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Every day at work, that initial passion is fueled. My family and I have been blessed. We’ve been enjoying some travel and renewed time with family since graduation. We’ve also welcomed a new addition, our baby girl. It is truly a privilege to work and serve in our great profession.”

Lisa Hollien, PA-C (Tacoma Class 1), writes, “Thinking back to two years ago, I had just finished my didactic year with Tacoma Class 1 and was packing my car for my first clinical rotation. I had no idea how challenging, gratifying, rewarding and humbling becoming a physician assistant would be. Since that time, I have successfully passed the PANCE, completed an urgent-care fellowship with MultiCare Health systems and was offered a full-time position. I am truly grateful to have gained an incredible mentor, Dr. Rob Girvin, to guide and mold me as I begin my career as a PA.”

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William Bomberger, PA-C (Yakima Class 8), writes, “I have been in Spokane for nearly 10 years, and will celebrate my 10-year anniversary at CHAS (Community Health Association of Spokane) in March 2017. The facility where I work is a Health Care for the Homeless clinic, and every day is a rewarding adventure. I split my time between patient care and my duties as deputy medical director at CHAS, with lots of meetings crammed into one day per week. I enjoy the balance of mixing clinical and administrative duties. My wife of 11 years, Amy Kukuk Bomberger (former staff member at MEDEX), and I have two wonderful children, ages 8 and 5. We recently completed a dream trip to Paris, France, this last spring.”

Janette Yingling, PA-C (Yakima Class 15), writes, “Over the last few years, I’ve continued my emergency medicine career with TeamHealth, which has provided me a variety of rewarding work opportunities in rural, underserved communities, inner-city hospitals and an academic medical center. In June, I spent several days with the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, working with 50 other PAs from nearly every specialty and geographic region of the U.S. to define core content and knowledge for future PANREs (Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam). It was intense, ground-breaking work, and I was able to observe how psychometricians gather and develop relevant exam data using scientific, evidence-based research practices. Outside of medicine, I can be found at home on the farm running the tractor or working on my fishing skills at the lake.”

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