Vol. 33, No. 2     Fall 2010
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MEDEX Northwest

New job, award, move or family addition? Your classmates and colleagues want to hear from you! Let us know how you’re doing. We also welcome emailed photos — just be sure to identify everyone in them.


  • Mary Fargen, PA-C (Seattle Class 14), writes, “To many people’s surprise, I have been at the same job I took out of PA school. I work in a rural clinic in Adams, Minn., and have been here for the past 28 ½  years working with the same supervising doctor. I have been busy over the last four years doing medical mission trips — 10 trips to Haiti, one to Vietnam, one to Russia, one to the Dominican Republic and one to India. I went to Louisiana after Katrina for two weeks and worked for 10 days in Haiti after the earthquake in January 2010. I will be returning to Haiti in October 2010 for our annual medical mission. To learn more about our work, you can go to HACAOT.org.”

  • Jim Sutton, RPA-C (Seattle Class 19), and Sagar Nigweker, M.D., both members of the Rochester General Hospital medical staff, have released a medical reference guide, Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor, published by Outskirts Press. It features the five most important questions that patients should ask at each doctor’s visit about any significant medical condition. Sutton has been a practicing physician assistant for 23 years and has spent his career serving vulnerable patients in Los Angeles, the Middle East and now urban Rochester, N.Y. He is an adjunct clinical professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and teaches physician assistant students in family medicine at Clinton Family Health Center in Rochester.

  • Kathryn (K. C.) Colson, PA-C (Seattle Class 22), writes, “I was tired of the violence and shootings in Vegas. We had a rash of M.D.s shot in clinics very close to where I work; we also had a murder-suicide in my neighborhood, and I was evacuated out of my house in my pajamas. I opted for a job working in the quiet city of Boise, Idaho. I work at The Spine Medicine Institute at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. I also consult for Green Valley Drugs with their intrathecal drug program and for Azure Pharmaceuticals on their intrathecal drug.”

  • Helen Hancken, PA-C, (Seattle Class 24), MPH, is the author of the blog Tundra Medicine Dreams; see www.tundramedicinedreams.blogspot.com. She’s been a family practice physician assistant for 18 years and writes, “I moved to Alaska in 1999 to serve the Yup’ik Eskimo people of the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta in the southwest part of the state. It is work that I love for a people that I greatly admire, and I have been warmly welcomed and loved in return. My experiences of living in the Yup’ik culture and practicing bush medicine have always been received with great interest when I traveled to the lower 48 for conferences and visits, so, in 2006, I began writing a blog about them. Tundra Medicine Dreams is a collection of essays on bush medicine, Yup’ik culture, dog mushing and life in Bethel, Alaska — a place unlike any other. About 18 months ago, I moved from Bethel to the town of Kenai; I still work for the Yup’ik people, doing medical triage with the health aides in the villages from my home via fax, telephone and telemedicine. Several times a year I travel to Bethel and spend a week seeing patients in clinic and keeping in touch with my colleagues there. Thanks to this amazing technology, I am able to continue doing the work that I love.”

  • David Ward, PA-C (Seattle Class 28), is still in the Dallas area. He left emergency medicine and went to family practice at a big clinic just east of Dallas, seeing 20–35 patients a day. He writes, “I have really good memories of MEDEX and my training has served me well — amazing the things I remember. Tell Gino, Ruth and the others ‘hello’ and thanks for the great education, and to you, Bill Plummer, thanks for the friendship and mentoring.”

  • Brian E. Granvall, PA-C (Seattle Class 34), who practices cardiac critical care, relocated to Northern Virginia with his family in January 2009. He deployed to Haiti two days after the earthquake with the International Medical Surgical Response Team. While there, he worked with Jim Krieg, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon from Harborview with whom he had worked in Portland. Granvall and his wife, Annie, have two boys and invite anyone wishing to see the nation’s capitol to drop them a line at bgranvall@comcast.net

  • Jeffery Garcia, PA-C (Seattle Class 35), has been in cardiology in Los Angeles since he graduated from the program. He was recently approached to teach a formal EKG class. 

  • Itanna Murphy, PA-C (Seattle Class 38), and her husband, Yosafe, a respiratory therapist, are making a third volunteer trip to offer medical aid to Haitians affected by the January 2010 earthquake. They are part of an informal group of doctors, teachers and nurses who call themselves “Love for Haiti.” With donations from Washington state medical groups and retailers, Murphy had most of the supplies needed for the first trip. Other donations came from family and friends who learned of the medical mission though posts on Facebook and other sites. On the second mission, the group doubled in size, including structural engineers to inspect damaged buildings and other volunteers who helped install a water filtration system. While in Haiti, the Murphys trained young Haitians on basic medical skills, such as cleaning and bandaging wounds, in exchange for translation services. The Murphys plan to visit Haiti frequently in the future.


  • Theresa Vance, PA-C (Spokane Class 1), writes, “I love life as a physician assistant! It’s a great job, and I feel that I give back to my patients every day. I still live and work in the Spokane area, and I’m starting my eighth year at Rockwood Dermatology. I work primarily in a clinical practice where removing 150 or more skin cancers a month is about average. It’s a busy practice, and I love it! I continue to teach at MEDEX Northwest’s Spokane satellite program — I’m teaching dermatology courses now. I love seeing the light go on when a student gets their mind wrapped around a concept, and teaching is another way for me to give back. I also take a couple of students a year, along with my fellow PA, Jeanne Ellern (Seattle Class 30), who works with me. At home, I’m busy with music, music, music! I play piano regularly for Tuxedo Junction Big Band as well as a jazz combo, and I sub in other big bands. I also play for Sacred Heart School of Nursing reunions and mass. I’m an empty-nester as my daughter is almost 19 and has moved out on her own. I keep busy kayaking, taking care of my two Lab-mix dogs, traveling, crocheting and spending time with friends and family. Life is good!  Hello to all my classmates and fellow alumni!”

  • Tom F. Douthit, PA-C (Spokane Class 5), writes, “I continue to work in ENT (Saltzer Medical Group) — I’ve been there for 6 ½ years with the same doctor. Camille and I have two daughters, Allison (5) and Lexi Lee (3). I obtained my master’s degree in physician assistant studies from the University of Nebraska. My outdoor passion still thrives, but it is difficult because of my girls (I still get out for archery hunting in the fall). We traveled to Disneyland in March and had a great time.”

  • John Calf Looking, PA-C (Spokane Class 5), writes, “I was working in Browning, Mont., for the Indian Health Service in the urgent care center, nursing home and rural clinic. I also did a colon cancer screening clinic once a month for Sletten Cancer Institute, and I managed a Coumadin clinic. I started my new job in July 2010 in Albuquerque, N.M., working for a gastroenterology clinic. I got married to my lovely wife from Sitka, Alaska, last July and plan on buying a home in New Mexico while my wife is finishing college.”

  • Rhaejon Smilden, PA-C (Spokane Class 5), writes, “I am currently employed as an orthopaedic PA at Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists in Spokane, Wash. My husband and I live out of town near Cheney and love the peace and quiet. I continue to love the outdoors. Our summers are filled with camping, boating, gardening and my new hobby — riding my own Harley Davidson. I hope all is well with the rest of MEDEX Class 5.”

  • Marty Sanchez, PA-C (Spokane Class 7), writes, “I’m working at a rural health clinic in central California just outside of Fresno in family medicine. I’m still living in Fresno, and overall life is pretty good — a typical day is 8:30–5:30. The work week is Monday to Friday with occasional Saturdays. I’m on call after hours as needed. I also volunteer to provide medical coverage for a local high school’s athletic teams. My patient mix is mostly Hispanic, with Middle Eastern, Asian and Caucasian making up the rest. It is a medically underserved area, with most patients uninsured or on MediCal. I usually see anywhere from 20–30 patients a day. My supervising physician is awesome and is one of the main reasons I have remained in family medicine. She likes to teach and gives me a great deal of autonomy, and we have worked together since I graduated in 2005. Under her supervision, I have the opportunity to treat and manage some very complicated cases. There are also two other physicians, a nurse practitioner, and two dentists in the clinic, along with a podiatrist and an OB/GYN who come in once a week. It’s a very supportive atmosphere.”   

  • Charlene (Finley) Jalovi, (PA-C Spokane Class 9), writes, “My husband and I are living in Spokane, Wash. I am currently working for Group Health here in Spokane, full time in family practice. I work with a great team and enjoy the medical home model that Group Health has implemented. This model brings the provider and patient closer together by having them communicate between appointments by phone or email. Patients love that they can call the clinic and their provider may be the one who actually answers the phone. I also enjoy volunteering and supporting Camp STIX, a summer camp north of Spokane for diabetic children. I have been doing this since 2007, and I’ve loved working with this group of volunteers and especially with these awesome and very brave kids with diabetes. I am also a proud mother of three young adults and a grandmother of a 3 ½–year–old granddaughter and a grandson born in March 2010. Greetings to my old classmates!”

  • Tammy Scott, PA-C (Spokane Class 9), writes, “I’m working at CPG/Community Medical Center in Missoula, Mont., doing family practice and have been there since October 2008. This is the very practice I spent my six-month family practice rotation in. I’m quite happy and hope to be here for a while! I traveled to Honduras in the spring this year with Missoula Medical Aid, and was one of five providers that spent two weeks going to villages and caring for Honduran people. The experience that touched me most while there was a house call I made to an 84-year-old woman who, according to the family, had been in bed ill for two months. After seeing her and taking her history, I diagnosed her with a simple urinary tract infection and treated her with antibiotics. A week later, I stopped in to check on her and found her up and out of bed, taking a shower! This one encounter made me realize the importance of what we do while we’re there, and it made me remember how fortunate we are to have access to healthcare in the United States.”


  • Cindi McCormack, PA-C (Yakima Class 4), writes, “I work as the director of operations for Medcor for all the medical practice management sites in the United States. I started with Medcor as a practitioner in 2003 at Yellowstone National Park and was then promoted to director of training and quality assurance in 2006 for Target Clinics. I became director of operations in 2009. Prior to 2009, I practiced emergency medicine at Columbia Basin Hospital from 1999–2006. I worked per diem in the ER at St. Francis, St. Clare and St. Joseph’s hospitals. I also worked per diem at Puget Sound Behavioral Health from 1999 to 2006.”

  • John Spitler, PA-C (Yakima Class 14), has won the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Award, which presents an award in return for a two-year commitment at a National Health Service site. He’s working at Central Family Medicine, a health center clinic and a family practice residency program in Yakima, Wash. It is one of two organizations in the area that take uninsured patients and serves a large Hispanic and farm worker base. John was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 1980 and spent most of his adult life in Patagonia, Ariz., 12 miles north of the Mexican border, where he served as an emergency medical services firefighter, a medical transcriptionist and a nursing assistant at Yakima Valley Hospital before becoming a PA.

John Spitler, PA-C (Yakima Class 14)

John Spitler, PA-C (Yakima Class 14)

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