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SIU Physician Assistant Program Graduates 35

Published Date:

Program also welcomes new students with white coats

The Physician Assistant Program at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine graduated 35 physician assistants during a ceremony on August 6, 2016, at SIU Carbondale. The class earned a Master’s of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA).

At the ceremony, the graduating class received their long white coats and certificates signifying completion of the 26-month program. The new physician assistants then gave short white coats to the 40 new physician assistant students.

The new physician assistants of the Class of 2016 and their hometowns include:

Ellen Atwood, Edwardsville

Brock Bailey, Mattoon

Molly Braddock, Anna

Trenton Clapp, Newton

Ashley Droege, Tremont

Joseph Flamm, Cobden

Wesley Howell, Murphysboro

Kayla Hudson, Decatur

Bridget Jackson, Midlothian

Kassie Jones, Vienna

Zachary Kemp, Carbondale

Brennan Malham, Auburn

Jodi Martin, Oran, Mo.

Sarah Martin, Sound Bend, Ind.

Cole McCormick, Mahomet

Kathleen McGovern, Chicago

Lauren Neier, Washington, Mo.

David "Dylan" Pate, Springfield

Ashley Patel, Forsyth

Briana Peper, Illiopolis

Katlyn Reimann, Rothschild, Wis.

Jacob Ribbing, Anna

Victoria Robbins, New Madrid, Mo.

Kristen Robson, Topeka, Kan.

Ashley Scaglione, St. Louis

Chloe Schmitt, Streator

Jennifer Schmitt, Johnson Creek, Wis.

Erica Small, Metamora

Joshua Smith, West Frankfort

Jayna Spivey, Rosiclare

Austin Stallings, Johnston City

Amanda Stubbart, Carbondale

Christina Trapp, Vienna

Clay Walker, Mt. Carmel

Hannah Ziegler, Greenbrier, Tenn.


SIU Physician Assistant Program Graduates 35A total of 110 students are currently enrolled in the 26-month program, which takes place on the SIU Carbondale campus. The students gain clinical experiences in Olney, Mattoon, Decatur, Springfield, Quincy, Peoria, Belleville, Champaign and Carbondale.

Nine central and southern Illinois doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who mentored the students throughout the 26-month program were also honored at the ceremony. The Class of 2016 named them “Preceptors of the Year.”

Fourteen students, faculty and alumni were also invited to join the Pi Alpha Honor Society for Physician Assistants. The Association of Physician Assistant Programs (APAP) established the honor society in 2004 to promote and recognize significant academic achievement, leadership, research, community/professional service, and the encouragement of a high standard of character and conduct among physician assistants (PA) students and graduates. Nominated by Program Director Donald Diemer, DHSc, PA-C, and the SIU Physician Assistant Program faculty, inductees into the Pi Alpha National Honor Society received certificates, cords and pins. New Pi Alpha inductees for 2016 include:

Student category:

Amanda Stubbart

Jacob Ribbing

Ellen Atwood

Jodi Martin

Jennifer Schmitt

Faculty category:

Erin Micenheimer, PA-C

Todd Pierson, ND

Molly Johnson, APN

Alumni category:

Laura Law, PA-C (2004)

Anne Fairfield, PA-C (2005)

Jeffrey Aguilar, PA-C (2006)

Andrew Kelly Guardia, PA-C (2007)

Jennifer Kokesh, PA-C (2008)

Honorary Category:

Jeannine Banning, RN MSN (SIU PA Program Advisor)


Physician assistants (PAs) work under the supervision of physicians in all areas of medicine to perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret lab tests, perform procedures, assist in surgery, provide patient education and counseling and make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes. All 50 states and the District of Columbia employ PAs to practice and prescribe medications. Ranked as the number one job in America by Forbes, USA Today, Glassdoor and the Young Invincibles in 2015, the demand for physician assistants has never been higher. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 30 percent increase in job growth by 2024, only eight years from now.


Established in 1997, the SIU program uses small-group, problem-based learning, teaching and assessment using simulated patients, much like the medical school. Clinical rotations in the second year prepare students in a medical setting in clinical sites around Illinois, particularly in the south and central areas of the state.

The SIU School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program grew from the initial 18 students per cohort in 1997 to 40 students per cohort in the last three years. Don Diemer, DHSc, PA-C, is the program director. Kyaw Naing, MD, PhD, associate director of Outreach Services at the SIU Carbondale Family Medicine Residency Program, is the medical director. The SIU program has a five-year average first time board pass rate of 99 percent.

The mission of the PA Program is to prepare health care professionals to provide primary health care to underserved populations in rural and health professional shortage areas and enhance this health care by preparing graduates who are interdependent medical providers, dedicated to both community and the profession.

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