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Rocky Vista University Celebrates Graduation of Physician Assistant Class

November 16, 2021
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Rocky Vista University Celebrates Graduation of Physician Assistant Class

November 16, 2021 – Parker, CO

On Tuesday, November 9th, Rocky Vista University (RVU) celebrated the graduation of 35 students from its Physician Assistant (PA) program at The Cable Center in Denver, Colorado.

Jasmine Hohl, MPAS '21, gives her speech at the Commencement Ceremony.

The ceremony marked the completion of 27-months of rigorous work by the graduates in an innovative program—and during an ongoing pandemic, no less. During the ceremony, Jasmine Hohl, MPAS ’21, recounted the many ways in which her classmates came together to help one another and how their demonstrated traits of ambition, courage, humor, open-mindedness, and kindness are important to the profession and the world. “These things – by no means a complete list of your positive traits – are essential tools that I think illustrate the strength of character that defines our class [and] will help us to navigate the unknown waters ahead. Feed your ambition, be brave, never stop laughing, keep your mind open, and be that goodness and that kindness that we need in the world.”

Program Director Cathy Ruff, MS, PA-C, welcomed the graduates and their loved ones and emphasized the incredible effort put forth by the graduates to overcome challenges to their training caused by the pandemic. “Our graduates experienced these disruptions across all phases of their training – seamlessly adjusting to an abrupt transition to a virtual classroom, and then moving into clinical environments experiencing a variety of challenges. Your education…prepared you to face these kinds of challenges and create innovative ways to meet the needs of your patients and communities.”

A group photo of the PA Class of 2021.

The keynote address was delivered by Lise Johnson, PhD, Director of Basic Science Curriculum, and centered on what it means to be a trustworthy provider. “You aren’t here today because you are so smart, because you are so nice, or because you worked so hard. All of those things happen to be true, but they are immaterial. You are here today because you have proven that you are a competent, collaborative, compassionate physician assistant. And we trust you.”

RVU’s PA Program stands out in its use of a competency-based medical education (CBME) model that takes learning from knowledge acquisition to application, allows for multiple measures of performance, and assesses performance against a fixed set of predetermined criteria. The graduation of a cohort of capable and compassionate physician assistants will also help fill the existing gaps in healthcare delivery across the United States.

The graduates were led in their Physician Assistant’s Oath by Darcy Solanyk, PA-C, Associate Program Director, during which they pledged to hold as their “primary responsibility the health, safety, welfare and dignity of all human beings.” As lifelong learners, they will actively seek to expand their knowledge and use it to better their communities and the profession.

The next step for the RVU PA Class of 2021 is to take a national certification examination administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Graduation from an accredited physician assistant program and passage of the national certifying exam are required for state licensure and to begin practicing in a clinical setting.

Awards bestowed upon members of the RVU PA Class of 2021 during the ceremony include:

  • Compassion Award: Avery Soderberg, MPAS ‘21
  • Collaborative Award: Stephanie Bradford, MPAS ‘21
  • Excellence Award: Dana Filias, MPAS ‘21
  • President’s Award: Michelle Kahle, MPAS ‘21
  • Program Director’s Award: Natalie Crump, MPAS ‘21

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