A celebration of PA pioneers

By Alex Branch

PA
Dr. Lemke and Dr. Barron

 

Karen Kindler felt cautious at her interview as a prospective student in the physician assistant studies program two decades ago.

The UNT Health Science Center’s PA program was brand new and accepting its first class of students.

“I came with a lot of questions because it wasn’t yet a proven program,” said Kindler, PA-C. “But after I spent time with faculty I realized they were ready to truly invest in us. I knew this was where I wanted to be.”

Kindler, a member of the program’s first graduating class in 1999, returned to campus in July to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the program’s founding in 1997. More than 125 alumni, faculty, staff and current students gathered to reminisce and reconnect.

Since Kindler’s 11-member inaugural graduating class, the PA program has grown to enroll 75 students each year. In all, the program has produced 693 physician assistants, many of whom practice in North Texas. U.S. News & World Report ranks the program in the Top 35 nationally.

“At the time I graduated, I probably didn’t realize the significance of being a member of that first class,” said Kindler, who practices in the field of vascular surgery in hospitals around Fort Worth. “But when I look at the program today, I feel very proud.”

Hank Lemke, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, was recognized at the celebration for his role as the program’s founding director. Dr. Lemke says helping launch the PA program is his proudest career achievement.

“I am so proud of everyone who is, and has been, associated with this PA program,” Dr. Lemke said. “I look forward to watching our alumni continue to play a distinctive role in developing the future of this wonderful profession.”

For alumni who had not returned to campus recently, much has changed at the Health Science Center. New buildings have risen and construction is progressing on the five-story Interdisciplinary Research and Education Building off Camp Bowie Boulevard.

What hasn’t changed, several alumni said, is that the UNTHSC graduates they encounter in hospitals, clinics and other health care settings remain exquisitely trained.

“Our alumni are one of our greatest assets as we educate and prepare the next generation of physician assistants to become leaders in health care,” said Kirk W. Barron, PA-C, PhD, Chairman and Program Director of the physician assistant studies program. “Together, I know we can build on this momentum for the future.”

Recent News

Godoy family standing in front of the letters HSC
  • Our People
|Sep 23, 2022

Bridging the gap and breaking barriers, how HSC helped train a TCOM student to serve her community

Brenda Godoy got the email on January 26 and was in total disbelief. It was a fake. There’s no way this was this real. Surely, the mistake would be fixed, and Godoy would get a follow-up email saying she had not been accepted to the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. It never came. Godoy was i...
Dr. Licciardone
  • Our People
|Sep 20, 2022

How TCOM’s Dr. John Licciardone helped advance osteopathic medicine with King Charles III 

It was early February in 2008 when John Licciardone, DO, MS, MBA, FACPM hopped into a hackney carriage in London, commonly known as a taxi, for a ride to the airport after giving the keynote presentation at a conference. The cabbie asked the now-Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine Regents Professo...
Waridibo Allison, MD, PhD, FACP, CPE, FIDSA
  • Research
|Sep 19, 2022

HRSA awards $3 million grant to HSC

The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth recently was awarded a $3 million grant to address the growing shortage of health care workers who care for people with HIV. The scope of the work — funded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration over a five-year...
TCOM and College of Pharmacy Student Org Leaders
  • Education
|Sep 16, 2022

Students from HSC’s College of Pharmacy and TCOM collaborate for simulation training

More than 100 students from The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and HSC’s College of Pharmacy participated in a joint interprofessional simulation. The goal of the exercise was to promote the kind of teamwork the students will...