Physician Assistant Studies program to present white coats to Class of 2021 on Jan. 17

Thirty University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) students begin the clinical portion of their studies next week in an effort to earn their Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree.

The White Coat Ceremony for these future physician assistants (PAs) will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 17, in the Charles H. Fee, M.D., Auditorium at the SMHS.

Randy Perkins, MPAS, PA, FNP, and Christina Brooks, MPAS, PA-C, will present the ceremony’s keynote address.

After earning an undergraduate degree in Colorado, Perkins took a nursing degree from then-Jamestown College in Jamestown, N.D., a family nurse practitioner (FNP) certificate from UND in 1980, and an MPAS degree from UND in 2007. He currently practices as a physician assistant in general medicine at James River Correctional Center in Jamestown. He worked previously as an FNP at the Jamestown Regional Medical Center’s Wound Center, a PA and FNP for the North Dakota State Hospital, and a PA for Jamestown Dakota (Essentia) Clinic. He is a board member of the North Dakota Professional Health Program.

Brooks was raised in Grand Forks, N.D., and attended UND where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology and, later, an MPAS degree. She is currently employed at Nelson County Health System in McVille, N.D., where she works in family practice and emergency medicine.

Welcome remarks will be given by SMHS Associate Dean for Health Sciences Tom Mohr, PT, Ph.D., and Associate Dean of Education and Faculty Affairs Ken Ruit, Ph.D. Closing remarks will be given by Eric, Johnson, M.D., medical director for the MPAS program and associate professor in the SMHS Department of Family and Community Medicine.

This Class of 2021, being given their white coats during the PA Studies program’s 50th anniversary year, is the first group to benefit from the School’s Adopt-a-PA-Program. Based on the School’s Adopt-a-Med-Student Program, where donors to the SMHS provide engraved stethoscopes for first-year medical students, the School launched an Adopt-a-PA-Student Program. In this case, nearly 20 generous donors to the School provided professional white coats for second-year physician assistant studies students who are about to begin their clinical experiences.

“The presentation of the white coat is symbolic of the new profession the students are entering,” said Department of Physician Assistant Studies Chair Jeanie McHugo, Ph.D., PA-C. “The coats will be worn by students through the clinical phase of their training and denote their involvement with the PA program at UND.”

Students have already completed their first two semesters of basic science instruction, and now will spend four weeks in the didactic setting in Grand Forks before returning to their home communities, where most of their training will take place under the supervision of physician and PA preceptors. Over the next 18 months, they will return to UND for several weeks at different junctures for education and training.

Seventy percent of the Class of 2021 is from North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Students range in age from 21 to 45 years, with an average age of 30. The class includes seven males and 23 females.

UND Master of Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2021:

  • Heidi Artz, West Fargo, N.D.
  • Sierra Baxter, Morehead City, N.C.
  • Rebecca Beyer, Casselton, N.D.
  • Ben DeVries, Hibbing, Minn.
  • Cherie Dowell, Fargo, N.D.
  • Stephanie Frentzel, Benson, Minn.
  • Julie Harmon, Resaca, Ga.
  • Quinn Jacobs, Glenwood, Minn.
  • Shelby Knox, Ray, N.D.
  • Savanna Kramer, Mandan, N.D.
  • Stephanie Krogen, West Fargo, N.D.
  • Katelyn Krueger, Grand Forks, N.D.
  • Breanna Krueger, Jamestown, N.D.
  • Alexander Lee, Plymouth, Minn.
  • Traci Leitheiser, Moorhead, Minn.
  • Drew Marx, Lakeland, Fla.
  • Abigail Moeller, Forest Lake, Minn.
  • Steve Moore, Maple Grove, Minn.
  • Aunica Novacek, Greenbush, Minn.
  • Christina Rasanen, Rapid City, S.D.
  • Natasha Richesin, Riceville, Tenn.
  • Brian Schiller, Fargo, N.D.
  • Melissa Severson, Preston, Minn.
  • Manpreet Sheabat, San Antonio, Texas
  • Samantha Simley, West Fargo, N.D.
  • Brady Srna, Great Falls, Mont.
  • Toby Steen, Grand Forks, N.D.
  • Kelli Strege, Fargo, N.D.
  • Kayla Terrel, Noble, Okla.
  • Jenna Zwiers, Nelson, Minn.