NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, NEV. — Two of the newest graduates of the Inter-Service Physician Assistant Program graduated and commissioned to the rank of 1st Lt. during a ceremony June 6, at the Mike O’ Callaghan Federal Medical Center.
The students, (former) Tech Sgt. Kevin Stuessy and (former) Tech Sgt. Christopher Gomez made up class 01-12 and graduated with their Master in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
The 29-month IPAP course was developed to take Airmen with or without prior medical experience and educate them to effectively provide quality medical care under the supervision of a physician. IPAP students receive training in an array of medical specialties including Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Ophthalmology and accumulating more than 100 college credit hours and 2500 hours of vital patient care. During each rotation, the students are placed in an apprenticeship under a physician specializing in the respective medical field.
“Most PAs choose this careerfield because of its flexibility, allowing us to work in a multitude of specialties and clinics without being required to specialize in a single field. We appreciate the partnership with our fellow physicians in providing the best medical care possible,”said Capt. Breanne Kormendy, IPAP clinical program director. “But the opportunity to observe specialists benefit students in knowing what conditions can be treated in the [Family Practice] clinic, and which ones are best referred to a specialist.”
Upon completion of the IPAP, Air Force PA’s start their career with four years in the Family Practice clinic as a primary care provider before given the option to specialize. PA’s can also serve in orthopedics, flight medicine, general surgery, dermatology and emergency medicine.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said 1st Lt. Kevin Stuessy, a former aircraft jet engine maintainer, upon graduating the course that took him from a technical sergeant to a lieutenant in just 29 months. “I think after I get to my first base on my own, and I’m the last word in care for my patient; that’s when it will hit me.”
Both graduates of IPAP 01-12, 1st Lieutenants Stuessy and Gomez have received orders for reassignments to new bases where they will begin their new careers. The Air Force’s newest Physician Assistants will be heading to Barksdale AFB, La., and Minot AFB, N.D., respectively.