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St. Claire HealthCare Welcomes First Physician Assistant Resident

St. Claire HealthCare Welcomes First Physician Assistant Resident

St. Claire HealthCare (SCH) takes great pride in educating the healthcare professionals of the future and is pleased to announce the health system has expanded its training opportunities for medical professionals interested in rural medicine. This fall, SCH will welcome its first resident from the University of Kentucky’s Physician Assistant program.

Physician assistants (PAs) are well-rounded practitioners with a wealth of clinical knowledge and direct patient-care experience. These health professionals practice medicine as members of a team with their supervising physicians and are uniquely qualified to step in and bridge gaps in healthcare.

PAs are trained as generalists which gives them the versatility to continue to train on the job in a myriad of medical specialties. Longstanding residencies in surgery, emergency medicine, NICU, and behavioral health have provided opportunities for additional postgraduate training, but as the demand for PAs has grown nationally, so has the need for additional targeted postgraduate training.

St. Claire HealthCare is pleased to announce it has partnered with the University of Kentucky’s (UK) Department of Physician Assistant Studies to develop a collaborative residency program that meets the immediate and specific needs of the health system.

“We worked very closely with the medical leadership at St. Claire to develop a curriculum that’s customized for the facility,” said Shelley Irving, PA-C, Assistant Professor, and Morehead Campus Site Director for UK’s Department of Physician Assistant Studies and member of the SCH Board of Directors. “We asked, ‘If you could custom make a PA to fit your needs, what would you want that person to come in being able to do?’”

The collaboration led to the development of SCH’s first Hospital Medicine Residency Program. This one-year residency will provide PAs with targeted training in various aspects of hospital medicine including critical care, infectious diseases, cardiology, pulmonology, inpatient rehabilitation, and more.

Oneita Stewart, PA, will join the SCH team this fall as the health system’s first resident in hospital medicine. A resident of Winchester, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Eastern Kentucky University in 2018 and completed her Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Kentucky this summer.

“Onieta is a great team member who is passionate about patient care, rural healthcare, and increasing access to quality care throughout the region,” Irving added.

Stewart knew at a young age that she wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but it took her a bit longer to reach her goal than she had expected and her journey wasn’t easy. Despite the many obstacles that were thrown in her way, including the loss of several family members during her time in PA school, Stewart found her calling along with a great love for internal medicine and critical care.

“It was a difficult journey, but I met so many amazing people who work in healthcare along the way and I’ve experienced their compassion firsthand,” Stewart said. “I pray that as a provider, I can do that for my patients and their families.”

According to Stewart, during both her inpatient hospital and ICU rotations, she was continually challenged by the complexity of caring for patients. She said she relished in the opportunity to dig deeper into resources and see out as much knowledge as she could absorb. That’s when she knew she wanted to pursue advanced training in hospital medicine.

“PA is not Onieta’s first profession. She came into the program with a wealth of life experience that has made her a model student and a model PA,” said Irving. “Her unique perspective and interpersonal skills will be very beneficial in providing real-time evaluation and feedback to both SCH and UK during the first year of this residency program.”

John Jenkins, DO, hospitalist physician, will serve as the residency program’s clinical director, and Ashley Fay, PA-C, will serve as the assistant clinical director.

To learn more about educational opportunities at SCH, visit