A celebration of PA pioneers

July 26, 2017

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.”

The pattersons
The ATV accident that changed my life

By Rita Patterson, Department of Family Medicine I was attending an event at work when I learned that my husband, Les, had crashed his all-terrain vehicle near our Weatherford home. The ATV rolled onto his leg, crushing it. He hollered for help until a neighbor heard him and called 911. The...Read more

Jun 20, 2018

Charles and Teresa Gonzales
A population at risk

By Jan Jarvis   Charles and Teresa Gonzales know what dementia does to a person. The Grand Prairie couple has lived through it with both of their mothers. “The first thing I noticed was my mother kept asking the same question over and over,” Charles said. “She’d ask somethin...Read more

Jun 19, 2018

Bowling Pins Fc
UNTHSC history: Tavener bowling pins

By Alex Branch   For almost 50 years, UNT Health Science Center has preserved two scuffed bowling pins. The vintage pins recall a throwback to the 1950s and 60s, when people in vertically striped shirts and rented suede shoes flocked to bowling alleys on Friday nights. But these pin...Read more

Jun 18, 2018

DNA group with missing posters
A better cold-case database

By Jeff Carlton   A UNT Health Science Center team has upgraded and enhanced a national database for cold cases involving missing people and unidentified remains to offer more powerful investigative tools for criminal justice agencies and families searching for their loved ones. Called...Read more

Jun 13, 2018