Why I Chose Pacific

The Pacific University School of Physician Assistant Studies welcomes students from across the nation and the world to join in our mission. They bring a common passion in providing access to quality health care to rural and underserved communities, experience within the health care field, strength in academics, and more! Learn more about the current students and graduates of our program.

Why Students Choose Pacific Unversity

Current Student Perspectives

Alum Perspectives

Current Student Perspectives

Name:  Darla K.
Year:  Class of 2013
Hometown:  Portland, Oregon


Pacific was the right choice for me because… I felt at home at Pacific. The welcoming atmosphere coupled with the undeniable theme of teamwork and camaraderie make this program exceptional.  PA school is hard.  There is no way around that – but the staff and faculty bend over backwards to ensure that you succeed both academically and emotionally.  This is a fantastic group of educators, and I know that these previous professors will continue to be my mentors for years to come.   Also, having the opportunity to participate in an international rotation was something that you cannot get from every PA program.  I will be going to Kenya during my clinical year and so excited for the opportunity to learn and practice medicine internationally. 


After graduation I hope to… work in a collaborative practice where PA’s are used to their full benefit and continue to learn and utilize the skills I gained from Pacific University.


Name: Zach M.

Year:  Class of 2013

Hometown: Richland, Washington


Pacific was the right choice for me because… of the class size and the interactions you receive on a daily basis with the professors. They take a genuine interest in you not only as a student but as a future health provider.


After graduation I hope to… continue serving populations throughout the Pacific Northwest, with an emphasis on those with little or no access to health care.


Name: Regan B.

Year:  Class of 2013

Hometown: Spokane, Washington


Pacific was the right choice for me because… of the faculty, curriculum, and location. The faculty by far make this program what it is today. The thing that sticks out in my mind was the day I was studying at school on a Sunday afternoon, and all of a sudden Dr. Pedemonte sticks his head in the room and asks me if I had any questions! I asked why he was there and he just replied casually that he was just doing his Sunday rounds. They genuinely care about our success as PAs but also as people. Secondly, the module system is an outstanding way to learn. My mind works well when I'm able to focus on just one subject at a time. Lastly the location is superb. Being no more than 30 minutes from the heart of Portland and an hour from the Oregon Coast is sure hard to beat! Yes, it rains... a lot in the winter, but it makes for the most beautiful summer you've seen! As a husband and father of 2 girls now, Hillsboro has been a great place for my gals to spend this didactic year.  


After graduation I hope to…  find a job in or around Spokane where home is. The beauty of becoming a Physician Assistant is that I don't have to choose exactly what field I want to specialize in, ever. I'm going to pursue a practice that first and foremost I can provide for my family and start repaying my student loans. I think working in primary care right out of the get go will help me to refine a broad spectrum of skills that will help kick start my career.


Name: Erica M.

Year: Class of 2012

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota


Pacific was the right choice for me because... of the unique modular curriculum, the compassion of the faculty, the emphasis put on medicine as a service, and the beautiful facility and surrounding area of Portland and the Northwest.


After graduation I hope to… work in Family Medicine, and also do some Inpatient Hospitalist work. I also plan to work with the Hispanic population and/or work in community health, and use my Spanish daily.


Name: Erin C.

Year: Class of 2012

Hometown: Eagle River, Alaska


Pacific was the right choice for me because… the staff/faculty are incredibly supportive and caring, I love that I get to travel, and I think the module curriculum is the most effective way to learn.


After graduation I hope to… I hope to possibly work in family medicine and be able to volunteer as a PA in clinics around the world.


Name: Scott H.

Year: Class of 2012

Hometown: Grand Junction, Colorado


Pacific was the right choice for me because… to be honest, when starting the application process I was not picky. All I wanted was to get in somewhere. I interviewed with other programs and was just hoping for a shot at one of them. After I interviewed at Pacific I realized what a difference a school could make and Pacific quickly became my top choice. Pacific was the only program where the entire faculty was introduced to the applicants at the interview. The director of the program spent the day mingling with the applicants, asking and answering questions. Current students shared their enthusiasm for the program, the faculty, and the city of Portland. They were very transparent in how things were done and what was expected. The faculty demonstrates a genuine love for the profession and desire the success of each student. I would still choose Pacific if I had it to do all over.


After graduation I hope to… work in a primary care setting for a few years, and improve on the skills and increase the knowledge that has been taught throughout the program. Eventually I would like to work in a specialty, possibly surgery where my time would be split between clinic and the O.R.


Name: Romilla B.

Year: Class of 2013

Hometown: Portland, Oregon


Pacific was the right choice for me because… of its multidisciplinary approach and global awareness in the primary health care system. One of the most exciting things about the Pacific University PA program is that I can look forward to being with a very diverse range of individuals with varied experiences and backgrounds.  I see myself as adding another rich facet to the class since I bring the experience and perspective borne form interacting with patients and hospital staff from urban and rural areas around the globe. 


After graduation I hope to… I  look forward to a life as a physician assistant with a determination to compassionately provide optimal medical care and building life-long friendships with patients and colleagues all over the world. 

Name: Jonathan C.

Year: Class of 2012

Hometown: Juneau, Alaska 


Pacific was the right choice for me because… of two reasons.  First, I liked the system-by-system approach to knowledge presentation, which allows me to connect individual pieces of knowledge into a well-structured whole earlier in the game.  Had I tried to learn pharmacology, for example, in a vacuum, I doubt I would have the retention that I do today.  Second, the structural avoidance of competition between students was fantastic. The whole program is built so that students benefit from helping each other learn, and no one ever risks their own grade or standing by helping another student meet the very aggressive program requirements.  With the incredible amount of knowledge we have been expected to learn, being able to work together as one big team has been very helpful in working through the stress.


After graduation I hope to… work in primary care or emergency medicine, while resuming my overseas short-term medical missions efforts at a higher level of proficiency.


Name: Bridget B.

Year: Class of 2013

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona


Pacific was the right choice for me because… they valued me as an individual, and that showed throughout every aspect of the application process. I was also very drawn to Pacific's integration of the "Whole Patient" concept into their curriculum, advocacy of student involvement in community healthcare projects, and the obvious value they place on choosing applicants based on a balance of academic accomplishments and personal character.


After graduation I hope to… return to sunny Arizona after graduation and resume work in the orthopedic trauma community where I formerly worked as a surgical technologist. I believe my education from Pacific will provide me with a strong primary care based foundation of knowledge that I can carry back with me into the surgical world, and I am confident the faculty will continue to act as resources and support throughout my career.


Name: Miriam D.

Year: Class of 2012

Hometown: Portland, Oregon


Pacific was the right choice for me because… of the feeling that I got during the interview. The faculty and staff were very friendly and open to answering all of my questions.  The students seemed happy and excited to be a part of the program.  I got the sense that this was a place open to collaborative work as well as to other points of view regarding medicine and patient care.  In addition, Pacific's commitment to serving the community and underserved populations resonated strongly with my personal mission. 


After graduation I hope to… establish a practice in an integrative medicine clinic after graduation.  As a Chinese Medical Practitioner prior to PA school, I would like to incorporate both Eastern and Western medicine into my practice in order to provide patients with informed choices about how to handle their health needs.  


Name: Joanna C.

Year: Class of 2013

Hometown: Portland, Oregon


Pacific was the right choice for me because… Pacific's PA program immediately gives off a welcoming and encouraging vibe. I wanted a program that was dedicated not just to keeping their academic standards high but one that also catered to the individual needs of the class. The faculty and program are not afraid of constantly re-evaluating the academics and the approach to teaching a class based on constructive student evaluations. They have changed teaching styles, lecture notes and module formats to best help each year's class. I also like Pacific because of the consistent reputation of producing successful PAs, the access to faculty, modern facilities, the chance for rotations all over the U.S., the emphasis on direct patient interaction, and by word of mouth from so many graduates who have graduated from the PA program. 


After graduation I hope to… take a couple months off and travel internationally for a while. I would then like to start working in the trauma/ED field around the Portland area and work with Medical Teams International or another short term missions medical program that sends interdisciplinary teams out all over the world to help medically isolated communities. 


Name: Matt B.

Year: Class of 2013

Hometown: Beaverton, Oregon


Pacific was the right choice for me because… of the faculty and staff and how much they invest in us as students.  They are completely invested in our learning and understanding of the material, and it is apparent every day how much they care about us as students.  My classmates are an important part of my success and enjoyment of the program.  The support we provide each other is what helps all of us reach our final goal.


After graduation I hope to… 1) get a job and start paying the bills 2) travel 3) Figure out the best way to stay in contact with my classmates.


Name: Kristina A.

Year: Class of 2013

Hometown: Thatcher, Arizona


Pacific was the right choice for me because… the faculty are so invested, listen to your feedback, teach same ideals and beliefs as I believe, great school with great education, focus on underserved communities, international opportunities.


After graduation I hope to… I hope to be working either in an emergency room or general family practice in an under-served area with Spanish-speaking individuals.  Later down the road with years of experience and skill, I would love to precept and/or teach at PA school in addition to my practicing medicine.


Name: Anya D.

Year: Class of 2013

Hometown: Bismarck, North Dakota


Pacific was the right choice for me because… I really enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere of the interview day, and that same laid-back and relaxed atmosphere has been present this whole first year of classes.  The professors are brilliant and so friendly.  Plus, Pacific is one of the very few PA programs in the country that has international rotation opportunities.


After graduation I hope to… be working either in a pediatric clinic, or with underserved populations in an urban health care setting


Name:  Aaron L.

Year:  Class of 2013

Hometown:  Redmond, Oregon


Pacific was the right choice for me because… I had the opportunity of meeting and shadowing a few Pacific Alumni prior to applying and was extremely impressed with them.  They were professional, caring, and highly respected.  They also all had a common theme about the Pacific program.  All of them said that the administration at Pacific truly cares about them and worked hard to help them be successful.  They were exactly right and now I am seeing it firsthand.  I am thankful for the opportunity to be here. 


After graduation I hope to… I hope to serve in a small community somewhere, and be involved in the medical community, the schools and sports teams. 


Name: Justin M.

Year: Class of 2013          

Hometown: Kaneohe, Hawaii


Pacific was the right choice for me because… my goal was to become a PA.  My dream was to be a PA in Hawaii.  When looking at programs during the application process, I was impressed with Pacific University’s commitment to increasing health care, not only to the underserved, but to the underserved in Hawaii specifically.  With so many opportunities for rotations in Hawaii, I knew that Pacific’s program would be my best choice if I really wanted to practice back home.


Also, during the application process, the staff and faculty from Pacific University went out of their way to answer my questions and to provide any of the information I requested. If they were this nice to somebody just showing interest into their program, I could only imagine how well they would take care of their students.  It’s been a blessing.  I feel honored to be a part of my class and this program.


After graduation I hope to… practice in internal medicine in Hawaii.  


Name: Tristan S.

Year: Class of 2013

Hometown: Washoe Valley, Nevada

Awards/Scholarships: Nevada WICHE Scholar


Pacific was the right choice for me because… When I made the decision to become a Physician Assistant, I had established some goals and values for the type of practitioner I wanted to be.  I wanted to find a program that incorporated a focus on patient-centered care that stemmed from the community and beyond international borders.  Pacific’s PA program encompassed this, and I felt the module-based didactic curriculum, as well as the various clinical settings amongst different communities, would prepare me to be a competent and diversified Physician Assistant.  I am fortunate to be educated by some of the most personable and readily available professors I have ever encountered, who are genuinely invested in helping you make the most of your education.  Pacific’s PA Program has helped me to develop the expertise to communicate with patients effectively, apply current medical knowledge, and guide me to become a practitioner who makes an impact on the health and quality of his patient’s lives. 


After graduation I hope to… work in primary care for a few years to enhance my basic skills and understanding of medicine.  From there, I may pursue a surgical residency and spend some time working in the surgical realm of medicine as a PA.  I have considered running my own surgical clinics in underserved areas in the future that will be for out-patient procedures.  I will continue international healthcare work throughout my career as well. I know the opportunities for PAs are expanding at an exponential rate, and it is hard to say which ones that present themselves to me throughout my career will be the most appealing.  One thing I can be certain about is that I will continue to be a dedicated Pacific alumnus who will always be available to foster education to future Pacific PA students.  


Name: Alyssa G.

Year: Class of 2013

Hometown: Portland, Oregon


Pacific was the right choice for me because… I immediately felt comfortable and welcomed by the faculty and current students. The open house and interview process demonstrated the program's commitment to educating students to become competent, dynamic PA professionals. I knew I could be successful and have the support I needed to get through such a rigorous program because of the faculty's dedication and passion for providing quality education. Now that I am in the program, the faculty has shown that they are flexible and always willing to make the curriculum and experience better for their students.


After graduation I hope to… work in women's health, pediatrics, emergency medicine, of family medicine. I am keeping my options open as I prepare myself for the clinical experience.


Name: Meegan M.
Year: Class of 2013
Hometown: Foxboro, Massachusetts

Pacific was the right choice for me because… of the focus on community service and international opportunities, modular didactic structure, and incredible faculty support. Pacific truly "walks the walk" when it comes to reaching out to the underserved in the community. The faculty have a genuine passion for teaching, exemplify a high standard of excellent medical practice, and are devoted to helping each student succeed in our future careers.

After graduation I hope to… work in women's health and/or family medicine while continuing to find opportunities to use my education to help the underserved patients in my community and internationally.

Alum Perspectives


Class of 2009

Felipson Ramos, Class of 2009 — Oregon
Community Service Scholar and Reapplicant

Felipson Ramos_PAThe factors I considered included the program’s reputation producing successful PAs, the faculty, the investment put onto the program (new facilities, advanced technological equipment), location, and the mission of the program. In addition to the above, the Pacific University PA Support Workshop has been a big deciding factor in my choice to pursue my education with Pacific University.

Winslow Lewis, Class of 2009 — Colorado
Community Service Scholar

Winslow Lewis_PAThe Pacific PA program appealed to me for several reasons, but the two primary motivations for selecting Pacific was the emphasis on underserved/ rural populations and the amazing opportunities for rotations all over the world. It is a goal of mine to be a part of a rural community’s medical team.

Along with being a clinician, I would like to be involved in the education of EMS providers and aspiring young adults looking to get into medicine. Traveling to give medical care to those who have little to no recourses has interested me since I decided medicine was the career that I wanted to pursue. The accent on underserved medicine in Pacific’s program felt like the perfect fit.

Kyle Ohisa, Class of 2009 — Hawaii
Hawaii Outreach Initiative Candidate

Kyle Ohisa_PA

“The mission of the Physician Assistant Program is to prepare students to provide quality care for a diverse population in a changing healthcare environment through an education based in primary care medicine with a focus on critical thinking.”

Born and raised in Hawaii, there is a vast amount of diversity, and I do believe that change is an ever present force. I greatly appreciated the fact that Pacific University promotes and nurtures diversity on the basis that we all can learn from each other because of our diversity. In this way, the PA Program holds a global perspective on healthcare, but focuses and emphasizes on the local community.

My Ly, Class of 2009 — Michigan

MyLee_PAMy educational background is in sociology, related to ethnic groups and healthcare in geriatric populations. I am privileged to have had a valuable work experience at the University of Michigan Medical Center, Trauma-Burn Unit. In both the trauma and burn populations, I have gained experience in emergency code situations, medical terminology and medical procedures, and have had experience with direct patient care, with all ages, pediatrics to geriatrics. In my healthcare experiences, I have found that my services both great and small have never gone unnoticed or unappreciated. My hope is to continue serving patients on a more advanced level, particularly, helping those who are less privileged and underserved.

Audrea Williams, Class of 2009 — Texas

Audrea Williams_PAWorking in the medical field, I've witnessed a consistent lack of personal involvement and education regarding healthcare and treatment among patients. I want to be a contributor in promoting and inspiring wellness and personal medical responsibility. I feel that the Pacific University Physician Assistant Studies program and I share the same vision and goal; I knew I could receive the tools necessary to be an effective and competent PA.

Curtis Cole, Class of 2009 — Oregon
US Veteran

Curtis Cole_PAI had a lot of interaction with PAs during my time spent in the military, because of my Combat Field Medic training I had the opportunity to participate in humanitarian aid missions while stationed in Central America. I was able to assist the medical teams (which always included at least one PA) as they administered both medical and dental care to the native people of those countries. The PAs I encountered throughout my years in the military were “take charge” individuals, which valued and worked well within their respective teams. These interactions played a key role in my decision to become a PA.

I had heard that Pacific was building a new state of the art medical facility, and I knew the school had a great reputation for all of its health care programs. After visiting the campus and talking with the faculty and support staff, Pacific was the obvious choice for me.

Class of 2008


Eric Foote, Class of 2008 — Oregon
National Health Service Scholar

Bachelor's Degree Completion Option Candidate

To me, Pacific embodies both the academic and humanitarian side of Physician Assistant education. I've had the privilege of working with three Pacific graduates at the LaPine Community Clinic. All three stepped right into the clinic with excellent decision-making skills and knowledge about medicine. But there was also something different about them. They genuinely cared about and listened to their patients. To me, that's what a Pacific graduate is all about. I believe that Pacific teaches compassion for patients, cultural diversity and excellence in medicine.

Nikki Jackson, Class of 2008 — Pennsylvania
Community Service Scholar

NikkiJackson_PAI choose this program for many reasons. I was impressed by the pass rate for the certification exams and retention rate. I prefer to have calm and a non- distracting environment in order for me to digest new information and learn. This area allows for this as well as outdoor activities and a huge city experience just minutes to a few hours away when needing to relax. Also, I chose this program due to the emphasis on community experience, the underserved and its close involvement with the Hispanic population. I aspire to work with the underserved on the west coast or in the South upon starting my career as a PA.

Janelle Ponce, Class of 2008 — Hawaii


I love that the Pacific PA program “thinks globally, but acts locally”, they embrace cultural diversity in their program because I believe it will take us a long way. As a healthcare provider, I will

encounter people whose medical outlook may be influenced by their culture. If I can understand that, it will only help me to better serve them.


Marty Braun, Class of 2008 — New Mexico

I decided to reapply to the Pacific PA program because I knew the reputation it sustained and the quality of PA’s that are graduating from the institution. I chose the PA profession because I feel it will be the most rewarding position in the medical field based on my experiences and interactions with other medical personnel.I enjoy helping people and being a part of their care and well-being. I hope to reach out to the outlying communities of my town to bring better medical care and attention.

Charlie Burkey, Class of 2008 — Alaska


I have been a volunteer EMT with the Bethel and Kodiak Fire Departments since 1990. After retiring from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) I decided to take my EMT skills to a higher level. Becoming a Paramedic was an option, but the time commitment was nearly as long as that to become a PA and, in my opinion, chasing ambulances is for young people. Medical school required too much time and the responsibilities of a physician were more than I was willing to assume. Nursing was an acceptable option if my attempt to enter a PA program was unsuccessful.


Ken Craver, (PA-C, MS) Class of 2007 — Alaska


I desired a more personal setting as a medical professional, possibly at an inner-city clinic or a rural community setting. Essentially, becoming a PA will provide me with a greater clinical understanding of medicine, an increased personal satisfaction, and a healthier life for my family that my current situation does not afford. Lastly, I wanted to travel abroad and as a PA I’m capable of doing that.

SajeDavisRisen_PA.jpgSaje Davis-Risen (PA-C, MS)

Class of 2006 — Illinois

I’m a Pediatric and Urgent Care PA at the Puyallup Tribal Health Authority in Tacoma, Washington.

Yes, Pacific met my expectations – even those I didn’t know I had! My didactic year was full of information, faculty was supportive and the PBL modules were all that I hoped for and more. The volunteer opportunities and collaboration with other agencies were exemplary, and there was time for some fun too. Clinical rotations were with quality preceptors, who understood the PA role, and used PA students to their fullest extent.

I spent 3 months in family practice in Kalamazoo, Michigan – a rotation I set up on my own to spend time with family. I did Internal medicine, ER, HIV and Orthopedic surgery in the Portland area. I spent a month in rural Washington at the Quilieute tribal reservation and a month at a community clinic in Tillamook, Oregon as an Oregon Search scholar.

Anya Hill (PA-C, MS), Class of 2005 — Oregon
OHSU, Instructor School of Medicine, Department of Surgery, Division of Liver and Pancreas Transplantation

I chose Pacific University because it is a small community-based program in the Pacific Northwest that offers a Masters degree. I was an RN for 25 years where I worked with PAs. It has always been a life-long dream of mine to practice medicine. I wanted to have the ability to change areas of practice, eg, primary care, neuro surgery, OB/GYN, oncology, etc.

Jared Papa (PA-C, MS), Class of 2003 — Washington

I am employed at a Community Health Center in Quincy, WA a rural town of 5,000 where we serve a large population of people from a Hispanic background.

I saw becoming a PA as a great opportunity to be a part of a profession of service that allows for continued occupational advancement. Pacific is a community based school with student oriented professors who I saw as being genuinely concerned about my education and well being.

Dana Richards (PA-C, MS), Class of 2005 — Alaska

I work in internal medicine at a private clinic with two physicians and another part-time PA. I don’t really specialize in any area. However, working in Juneau, AK we aren’t able to easily refer patients to specialists so I often manage challenging conditions that would be referred elsewhere in other situations.

I chose Pacific University because I liked the curriculum and location. I was impressed by the application materials and the organization of the program. I also liked having the opportunity to study internationally.