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Students and faculty in the PA program learn in the classroom

Program director welcome

Shekitta Acker, MS, PA-CThere has never been a better time to become a PA. We’re glad you’re exploring our program to see if this may be the ideal fit in your journey towards becoming a PA.

You will excel within this program if you learn best in small groups that engage in active learning rather than extended periods of lectures. Successful students are also people-oriented, independent thinkers who engage surrounding peers, teachers, and mentors to advance their learning.

You will fit well in this program if you enjoy learning in an environment that emphasizes “the needs of the patient come first." It’s an adage from the Mayo brothers and now, more than 150 years later, it serves to guide us just as well. Our PA students learn in an environment that expertly integrates the primary care needs of every patient in the broad range of specialized care for which Mayo Clinic is recognized.

I personally have a passion for supporting PA students to excel in leadership. Our program intentionally teaches PA students techniques of leadership that influence patients to pursue optimal health. Mastering leadership skills are vital to PAs serving effectively in Mayo Clinic’s team-based care.

We encourage you to find a PA program that will maximize your personal learning experience and development. If Mayo Clinic meets your expectations, we look forward to visiting with you.

Best regards,

Shekitta Acker, P.A.-C., Ph.D., M.S.
PA Program Director

Shekitta Acker, P.A.-C., Ph.D., M.S.

Shekitta Acker, P.A.-C., Ph.D., M.S.

Program Director
Assistant Professor of Medical Education

About me: I've been a PA for 13 years with clinical practice in family and adolescent medicine. I bring 16 years of experience in PA education with adjunct instructor appointments at Duke University and St. Augustine University. Most recently I served the PA program at MGH Institute of Health Professions.

Current research interests: Cognitive test anxiety, role of PAs and NPs in the care of trafficked children

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You should know: I have three beautiful children. We enjoy going to movies, family game night, and traveling. I'm also a member of the Commission on Research and Strategic Initiatives for the American Academy of PAs.

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Katie Rieck, M.D., M.H.A.

Katie Rieck, M.D., M.H.A.

Medical Director
Assistant Professor of Medicine

About me: I grew up in Waseca, MN, and attended medical school at the University of Iowa. I completed the Internal Medicine Residency at Mayo Clinic in 2011 and have since been a consultant in Hospital Internal Medicine. I joined the Mayo PA Program as Medical Director in 2019.

Current research interests: NSAID associated acute kidney injury in hospitalized patients as well as partnering with our fantastic PA faculty on projects including a point-of-care ultrasound project

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You should know: My husband Thom, who works at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, and I enjoy exploring our many wonderful Minnesota state parks, gardening, and traveling.

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Faculty mentorship

Our faculty, instructors, and preceptors are committed to providing an individualized approach to your success. They are experts in their respective fields and as teaching faculty, provide unique opportunities for your learning success. Having these mentoring relationships across the PA curriculum develops not only a higher level of learning retention, but emphasizes the development of your critical thinking skills.

Meet the faculty

Alan Brokenicky

Alan Brokenicky, MPAS

Academic Director

About me: I have been a PA since 2008 with clinical practice in family medicine, hospital internal medicine, and urgent care/emergency medicine. Most of my practice has been in community health clinics serving the Hispanic population in Tulsa, OK. I began working full-time in PA education in 2018 and came to the Mayo Clinic PA program in 2019.

Current research interests: Integration of cultural sensitivity and population health in medical education, telehealth, and best practices in instructional technology

You should know: My wife, and I and our three children are native Nebraskans. I am fluent in Spanish after living in Guatemala for two years shortly after high school as a missionary. I've also participated in medical mission trips to Nicaragua, India, and Nepal. I enjoy photography, the outdoors, working with my hands in wood and metal, singing, and playing the guitar.

Mike Breunig, MPAS, PA-C

Mike Breunig, P.A.-C., M.S.

Clinical Skills Co-Director
PA in Hospital Internal Medicine
Assistant Professor of Medicine

About me: I have been a PA since 2012 and continue to work clinically in the division of Hospital Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. I received numerous awards for my contribution to education and mentorship for NPs and PAs at Mayo Clinic. I was recently awarded the PA of the Year Award for the Minnesota Academy of PAs. I have a passion for use of Point-of-Care Ultrasound in clinical practice and education.

Current research interests: Integration of Point-of-Care Ultrasound into clinical practice and PA education

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You should know: My wife, Emily, and I have two children, Roman and Violet.  I enjoy cooking, camping, hiking, reading, and most of all, spending time with my family. We enjoy traveling and spending time outdoors together. 

Danielle O’Laughlin, MS, PA-C

Danielle O’Laughlin, P.A.-C., M.S.

Clinical Skills Co-Director
PA in Community Internal Medicine
Assistant Professor of Medicine 

About me: I have been a PA for 13 years with clinical practice in acute care and community internal medicine. I serve as the lead for the Employee and Community Health (ECH) Gynecology clinic and am a proceduralist in the ECH procedure clinic. I have experience in education through my clinic and program roles and have lectured on a local, national, and international level.

Current research interests: Use of ultrasound for intrauterine contraceptive location and intrauterine contraceptive effects on anemia and heavy menstrual bleeding

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You should know: I'm married to my husband, Corey, and we have two beautiful sons, William and Henry. We enjoy travel, spending time on the water, and outdoor adventures.

Amber B. Koehler, P.A.-C., M.S.

Amber Koehler, P.A.-C., M.S.

Didactic faculty
PA in Hematology
Assistant Professor of Medicine

About me: I have been a PA since 2015 and continue to practice clinically in the Mayo Clinic Division of Hematology specializing in the care of patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). I have lectured and presented research locally, nationally, and internationally, and have received several awards in recognition of my contributions to Mayo Clinic across the three shields of education, practice, and research. In 2023 I was appointed to Associate status, a prestigious recognition of outstanding contributions to Mayo Clinic, and was the first PA named to the CLL Society’s Expert Medical Council.  I currently hold academic rank both as an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Instructor of Medical Education, and have been named a Senior Fellow in the Excellence in Teaching Track, as well as a Fellow in the Excellence in Curriculum Design and Assessment Track, both within the Mayo Clinic Academy of Educational Excellence. I am active in the Advanced Practitioner Society of Hematology and Oncology (APSHO), and frequently lead CLL-related educational programming in partnership with them. I am passionate about compassionate and high-quality patient care, work-life integration, well-being, and effective, evidence-based educational strategies.

Current research interests: Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, quality of life in patients with cancer, burnout, PA education, PA student well-being, evidence-based learning and instructional strategies

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You should know: More important than any award, title, or publication is the time I spend with my family. We enjoy escaping to the mountains a few times per year where we enjoy hiking, backpacking, and skiing, and the ability to unplug. In addition to traveling as a family and getting to experience new places around the world for work trips, you can usually find me at home reading, playing piano, and cooking — we are always trying new recipes at our house! I also enjoy training our all white German Shepherd, who currently holds her novice and intermediate AKC trick ribbons. 

Joshua Luciew, MPAS, P.A.-C.

Joshua Luciew, MPAS, P.A.-C.

Didactic faculty
PA in Family Medicine
Instructor in Family Medicine

About me: I have been a practicing PA since 2018 after I earned my Master of Physician Assistant Science degree with minors in neuroscience and psychology. I relocated from Pennsylvania to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to practice family medicine and serve as a primary care provider to patients in the Rochester community. I also help train graduate students in my role as a clinical year preceptor during their family medicine rotations. Beyond the clinical setting, I am a co-director for Mayo Clinic’s Family Medicine Grand Rounds monthly conference and I also like to share up-to-date medical insights as a host for Mayo Clinic Talks Podcast.

Current research interests: Wilderness medicine, dive medicine, travel medicine, global health, procedural medicine, point-of-care ultrasound, and neuroscience

You should know: When I am not educating or helping others get healthy, I enjoy mountain biking, hiking, skiing, scuba diving, and world travel.

James A. Chally, DMSc, P.A.-C.

James Chally, DMSc, P.A.-C.

Clinical Co-Director of Development­
PA in Emergency Medicine
Instructor in Emergency Medicine

About me: I have been a PA since 2017 practicing in Emergency Medicine in Mayo Clinic Health System's Southwest Minnesota Region where I also hold a leadership position as a regional supervisor. However, my career in medicine began in 2007 after I completed the U.S. Army Special Forces Assessment and Selection course and assigned the role of medic. After completing the Special Operations Combat Medic Course and the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Training Course, I was assigned to and served for several years on an A-team with 1st Special Forces Group (SFG) and then 19thSFG. I currently serve as a medical officer in the Minnesota National Guard. I most recently was a faculty member with Mayo’s EM APP fellowship program with a specific emphasis in simulation development and assessment. I serve on various committees within Mayo Clinic.

Current research interests: Simulation evaluation and assessment. The role of simulation in medical education. Military medicine with an emphasis in special operations medicine.

You should know: I have been married to my wife Christine for 10 wonderful years. We have two children, and as a family we enjoy playing games, traveling to new places and trying new things, and fishing. In my spare time I enjoy reading, gardening and working on my house.

Jennie M. Goble, P.A.-C., M.S.

Jennie Goble, P.A.-C., M.S.

Clinical Co-Director of Development­
PA in Hematology­
Assistant Professor of Medicine

About me: I have worked at Mayo Clinic for 22 years and have been a PA for 13 years in inpatient and hospital-based outpatient hematology. I will complete my Doctorate of Medical Science degree with a focus in PA Education in December 2023. I am the President-Elect of the Association of PAs in Oncology (APAO). I am a fellow member of the Academy of Educational Excellence. I enjoy presenting at conferences nationwide on leukemia and cancer supportive care topics. I am passionate about high quality patient care and PA education.

Current research interests: Acute leukemia, preceptor recruitment and retention, preceptor education, NPPA onboarding

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You should know: I have been married for 23 years and have three children: Quinn, Lily, and Will. We enjoy movies, puzzles, and reading. I also enjoy cross-stitching, time with my siblings, and non-profit work for blood cancer patients through Red Drop Resources.

Justine Herndon, PA-C

Justine Herndon, P.A.-C.

Clinical Co-Director of Evaluation
PA in Endocrinology
Assistant Professor of Medicine 

About me: I have been a PA at Mayo Clinic in the Department of Endocrinology since 2012. My practice subspecialty focus includes pituitary and adrenal diseases and transgender health. In addition to clinical practice, I lecture on endocrinology topics at both the local and national level, and have published in high-impact endocrine journals. I am also a co-director for the Mayo Clinic PA Board Review CME course and am on the Education Committee for the American Society of Endocrine Physician Assistants.

Current research interests: Pituitary and adrenal dysfunction after radiation, various Transgender Health topics, Mentorship for APPs.

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You should know: I enjoy spending time with my spouse and two boys; hiking, biking, and going to the beach are family favorites. I also enjoy traveling, cooking, and participating in triathlons.

Ryan Kingsley

Ryan Kingsley, MPAS, P.A.-C.

Clinical Co-Director of Evaluation'
PA in Hospital Internal Medicine
Assistant Professor of Medical Education 

About me: I have served in diverse medical education roles with the U.S. Army, United Nations, American Heart Association, and Mayo Clinic over the last 17 years. I present regularly at several local, regional, and national conferences. I currently serve as Director-at-Large for the Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants, Medical Officer for 1-151 Field Artillery Battalion, founding director of the Mayo PA Program Student Academy, and on various committees and working groups.

Current research interests: Evaluation of entrustability in PA students, extended reality in medical education, point-of-care ultrasound education, cardiac conduction delay associated with remdesivir in COVID-19 infection, cognitive load in medical education and simulation, use of artificial intelligence to predict emergency department admission, and detection of substance use disorders in hospitalized patients

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You should know: My wife, Stephanie, and I have three young children and they enjoy being outdoors and traveling. In my spare time, I volunteer with the Mayo Clinic Veteran Recognition Program, and I enjoy gardening and remodeling.

Mimie Chilinda-Salter

Mimie Chilinda-Salter, MPAS, P.A.-C., M.P.H.

Adjunct faculty
PA in Neurosurgery

About me: I graduated from the University of Iowa PA program in 2012 and practiced as a Trauma and General Surgery PA until 2014 when I joined the Department of Neurosurgery here at Mayo Clinic. During PA School, I pursued a Master of Public Health Degree, as I have an interest in population health and epidemiology. I have a passion for medical and clinical education — with the entirety of my clinical practice being in close collaboration with fellows, resident learners, and NP/PA students on the team.

Current research interests: My interests are broad and clinically include Neurotrauma and Glioblastoma Multiforme treatment. I am also interested in the impact of Artificial Intelligence on medicine and medical education. From a public health perspective, I have a passion for social determinants of health and cultural competence in medicine.

You should know: My husband Tom and I have two children — Willow (10) and Noah (8). We love to travel to new places, go mountain biking as a family, and playing board games. I am an avid gardener, and in my free time can be found cooking, reading, or running outdoors.

Meet the staff

Physician Assistant Program staff

Cathy Devine

Cathy Devine
Administrative Assistant

About me: I have been an administrative assistant for 12 years with Mayo Clinic and joined the PA program in September 2021. I have three children and one granddaughter.

Shar Yanambaka

Shar Yanambaka
Education Administration Coordinator, Year 1 - Didactic

About me: I have been the Education Administration Coordinator for the PA program since 2020. I moved to the Unites States eight years ago and have my bachelor's degree from India in IT. I love working for the program and I've learned and grown so much since.

Larisa Radman

Larisa Radman
Education Administration Coordinator, Year 2 - Clinical

About me: I've been at Mayo since 1996 and just celebrated my 26th anniversary. I've worked in multiple departments in different roles and enjoyed all of them. My latest adventure is being an Education Administration Coordinator for the Physician Assistant Program since the end of May 2022. I enjoy learning about it and working with students and staff. I'm originally from Bosnia, and Rochester has become my home away from home.

Melody Ouk

Melody Ouk, MEd
Operations Specialist

About me: I have experience working in K-12 and higher education. I have my B.S. in Neuroscience and my M.Ed. in Science Education. I began working with the Physician Assistant Program in January 2022, and I assist with their course and program evaluations. I am a Rochester, Minnesota, native, and enjoy weekends at home with my husband and cat Zooey.