PA of the Year

Each year, the AKAPA Board of Directors recognizes the outstanding services of an Alaska-based Physician Assistant with the PA of the Year award. This prestigious award is presented during the annual AKAPA membership meeting from nominations received prior to September 15. 

The AKAPA Board of Directors is looking for nominations of Alaskan PAs who are exemplary in their work as a physician assistant. Nominations will be accepted year round. 

Please nominate a PA you know who fits some of the following criteria:

  • A PA with an outstanding accomplishment
  • A PA involved in local, state or national activities that further the PA profession
  • And/or a PA involved in community service.

Nominees must be AKAPA members and not be a current AKAPA board member. The winner will be sleceted by the AKAPA Board of Directors, and announced at the annual membership meeting. 

Past Recipients

2015: Patricia Hensch, PA-C, Anchorage, AK
2014: Pam Engle, PA-C, Anchorage, AK
2013: Ashley Marquardt, PA-C, Anchorage, AK
2012: Robert Thomas, PA-C, Anchorage, AK
2011: Jim Wojciehowski, PA-C, Anchorage, AK
2010: John Winklmann, PA-C, Anchorage, AK
2009:Wendy Hladick, PA-C, Unalaska, AK
2008: Steve Gage, PA-C, Sitka, AK
2007: Edward Hall, PA-C, Anchorage, AK

Nomination Form

Please download this form and return it before September 15 for consideration for PA of the Year. 

PA of the Year Award.pdf

2015 PA of the Year

Patricia Hensch, PA-C is the 2015 PA of the Year!

Pat is the very picture of the "Alaskan PA". After graduating from MEDEX in 1986, she worked in Bethel providing healthcare to patients throughout the entire region. She is famous for performing school physicals by the hundreds every year, often traveling by riverboat or airplane to villages in the YK Delta. She is well-known and well- liked by her patients and provided a stellar role model to Western Alaska Youth. 

Pat has continued in her career as an influential PA, becoming a PA educator at MEDEX in 2009, where she has retired in December of 2015. 

Submitted by Ashley Marquardt, PA-C

Patrica wrote a thank you letter to the Academy after receiving her award. 

I would like to thank the AKAPA board and members for selecting me as their PA of the Year for 2015!!  I am very humbled that I was chosen out of many, many outstanding Alaskan PA’s.  Some of them were and still are my mentors!!

While I was practicing in “bush” Alaska I sometimes felt very alone and isolated, but could always call an Alaska colleague and/or my collaborating Doc’s and work through difficult situations!

I started out teaching Health Aides -the health care delivery system in Alaska-and worked for the Yukon-Kuskokwim branch of UAA at YKDRH (Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional Hospital). 

 I tell our students “sometimes all you have is your stethoscope and your brain-so learn to trust them”! 

I then worked close to 10 years at the Yukon-Kuskokwin Correction Center as their Chief Medical Officer!  I was one of the first women in this position and it was somewhat daunting!  

You wear many hats when working in a rural under-served  community . I worked in the private clinic which after 3 tries of writing a grant- it became a Community Health Center!  I also was the first WIC Coordinator out in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and went to Juneau and got all the “files”.  They call me the Mother-now Grandmother(sic) of their vast WIC Program!

After years out in Bethel and doing thousands of village physicals I still am in awe of PA’s who have worked or are working in the isolated parts of Alaska.  It is a different kind of medicine and you have to experience it-rather than explain it. 

I have worked for the last seven years as the Clinical Coordinator for the Alaska MEDEX PA Program and must say it has been quite a ride.  I told Ruth Ballweg I would help start up this program for 2 years.  Now it is seven and it will be hard to leave it.  It has not been the easiest job I’ve ever had, but it has been the most gratifying job I’ve had! We don’t do this for accolades, but do it because we love our students and it needs to be done.

I look forward to retirement with travel and –of course-grandchildren.

Again many thanks for this prestigious award!

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