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Naima Mohamed speaker to her fellow classmates at the 2022 Physician Assistant program graduation ceremony
Naima Mohamed speaks to fellow classmates at the 2022 Physician Assistant program graduation ceremony

August 4, 2022

By Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science staff

The Physician Assistant program at Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences in Rochester, Minnesota, first began in 2020. On Friday, July 22, 2022, 22 students in the inaugural class celebrated their graduation. These graduates leave the program with a Master of Health Sciences in PA studies and a new set of skills and experiences. They will ease the physician assistant shortage at Mayo Clinic and beyond.

The Physician Assistant (PA) program at Mayo Clinic is a two-year program designed to provide knowledge and skills to medical professionals providing direct patient care, ultimately granting students a Master of Health Sciences degree in PA studies. 

For Michael Silber, M.B., Ch.B., who transitioned out of the role of Dean of Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences on August 2, 2022, the graduation ceremony for the PA program marked his last official event as Dean. As the Dean who approved the PA program, he had this to say about the graduation of the program.

“This graduation is the culmination of more than six years planning and implementation of a new and innovative curriculum developed under the leadership of our inaugural program director, Dr. Michael Huckabee,” says Dr. Silber.

The founding director looks back

Michael Huckabee, Ph.D., Associate Director of the PA Program and the founding director, spoke at the graduation ceremony. The event not only marked an important milestone for the program that he came to Mayo Clinic in 2018 to start, but also marked the end of his time here as he intends to retire. As a PA for nearly 40 years, his practice spanned patient care in rural family medicine, emergency medicine, and pediatrics, and he was an educator across four PA programs.

By the numbers, students in the PA program logged clinical rotation experiences providing patient care to more than 18,000 patients across Mayo Clinic Health System and more than 3,500 patients in Rochester.

“These meaningful learning experiences under the guidance of our expert Mayo Clinic staff,” says Dr. Huckabee, “assures their preparedness to serve at a high level anywhere across the Midwest Mayo Clinic and beyond.”

Dr. Huckabee saw his time at Mayo Clinic as the pinnacle of his career. “Our team in the School of Health Sciences was given the charge to develop an exceptional PA program,” says Dr. Huckabee. “We were supported at every turn with amazing people around us to make sure we got there.” And with this first graduating class, they assuredly succeeded.

New graduates fill PA shortages at Mayo Clinic

An important role of the PA program is to train and develop the next generation of Physician Assistants to work at Mayo Clinic and fill employment needs across the nation.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, “employment of physician assistants is projected to grow 31 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations” (source). Learn more about the Physician Assistant profession on our Health Sciences career page.

Program awards

Awards from the Physician Assistant program were presented to recipients at the ceremony. They included the following recognitions:

Guest Lecturer of the Year Award

Preceptors of the Year Award

  • Northwest Wisconsin: Dawn Mihalovic-Bayer, PA-C
  • Southwest Wisconsin: Jessica Sosso, MD, MPH
  • Southeast Minnesota: Amber Kraft, APRN, CNP
  • Southwest Minnesota: Hope Bollig, PA-C
  • Rochester: Trista Brown, PA-C, MS

RICH TIES AwardMary Nguyen

The RICH TIES award was presented to 2022 Physician Assistant graduate Mary Nguyen.

The award goes to a student who embodies Mayo Clinic’s RICH TIES framework of respect, integrity, compassion, healing, teamwork, innovation, excellence, and stewardship. This student would have demonstrated professional and ethical behavior, leadership, effective teamwork, and the ability to translate their knowledge towards innovative new ideas and promote “the need of the patient comes first” through compassion and advocacy.

Student awards

The following student awards were created by the graduating class to honor their fellow classmates:

Faith Matheka

Faith Matheka

Most Resilient Classmate

Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya

I am honored to have been part of the inaugural class at Mayo Clinic. I am appreciative of my classmates and the faculty for making this experience so worthwhile. The past couple years have come with their share of challenges, but the rewarding feeling of making it through has made it all worthwhile. I look forward to applying the skills I have gained here in the real world and providing the best care I can to my patients.

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Megan Toney

Megan Toney

Best Study Buddy

Hometown: Lincoln, NE

Thank you to members of group 2! I loved being on this team. Everyone has been so kind and helpful these past couple years.

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Victoria Boss

Victoria Boss

Most Supportive Classmate

Hometown: Spooner, WI

Thank you to Mayo Clinic and our faculty for investing in each of us. Thank you to my classmates; you are the most incredible and resilient group of people I have ever met. Thank you to my family for your unconditional support. All glory to God. 

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The full graduating class included the following students:

Ella Beardsley, Victoria Boss, Carolyne Copley, Michael Dick, Alex Goettl, Karen Gomez Ruiz, Anna Gould, Macy Griffith, Rachel Masek, Faith Matheka, Michael McConnell, Naima Mohamed, Lauren Morrison, Melissa Mott, Mary Nguyen, Alex Pena, Anna Perrill, Emily Person, Anna Schmelzer, Arok Thon, Megan Toney, and Mark Urban

First group of students graduate in 2022 from the Physician Assistant Program at Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences
First group of students graduate in 2022 from the Physician Assistant Program at Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences