(Alexandria, Va.) – Kathy A. Kemle, M.S., PA-C, has been selected as the 2008 Outstanding Physician Assistant of the Year by the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). Kemle teaches geriatric medicine at the Mercer University School of Medicine and practices in Macon. She has held several leadership positions in various medical societies, including AAPA, and is a widely-published authoritative figure in the field of geriatric medicine. She will be presented with the award on Friday, May 23, in San Antonio at AAPA’s 36th Annual Physician Assistant Conference.
The Outstanding Physician Assistant of the Year is a physician assistant (PA) who has demonstrated exemplary service to the PA profession and the community and has furthered the image of physician assistants.
With a career that spans nearly three decades, Kemle has touched the lives of countless patients, students and colleagues. Her impressive achievements as a clinician tell only part of her story; her accomplishments as an educator, author of peer-reviewed articles, and organization leader are equally impressive.
After graduating as a physician assistant from the University of Texas Southwestern Dallas in 1979, Kemle joined the ob/gyn department at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), where she worked as a staff physician assistant for the next six years. The native of Fort Wayne, Ind., spent more than a decade at UTMB, including two years as a staff PA in the Department of Medicine and three more as a geriatrics coordinator.
In December of 1989, she left Texas and joined the staff at Albany Area Primary Health Care, Inc., in Albany, Ga., specializing in geriatrics and long-term care.
Her academic career, as described by her colleagues at Mercer, is “stellar.” In addition to her years at UTMB, she currently holds academic appointments at the Medical College of Georgia, Emory University, South University and Mercer University. She has been a visiting scholar in pain management at Ohio State University. Her work has been published in several medical journals, including Annals of Long Term Care, Annals of Emergency Medicine, and Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. She has been a featured presenter at dozens of national, regional and state medical conferences.
Her ability to inspire and educate her own students is evident in the words of one such PA student from Emory: “I am now on my second clinical rotation with Kathy, this time as an elective. She never tires of teaching or sharing her knowledge with others. When I graduate this March, I will begin looking for a position that allows me to practice my love for geriatrics and palliative care that was inspired by Kathy.”
Throughout her clinical and academic career, Kemle has somehow found the time to be an active leader in several state and national medical associations. She has twice served as president of the Georgia Academy of Physician Assistants and was co-founder and president of the Society of Physician Assistants in Caring for the Elderly. She has been a board member of the American Academy of Home Care Physicians, the Georgia Rural Health Association and the Georgia Geriatrics Society. After serving as treasurer for the Georgia Geriatrics Society from 2001-2003, she became the first PA ever to be elected president of that organization, a position she still holds. She served seven years as a delegate in AAPA’s House of Delegates.
As with any health care professional, the ability to make a human connection with patients and their families can be the most important quality. Dona L. Harris, Ph.D., a professor of family medicine, associate dean and colleague of Kemle’s at the School of Medicine, provided an example of Kemle’s excellence in this regard.
“On a personal level, one of my greatest challenges was moving my [90-year-old] mother from Blackfoot, Idaho, to Georgia,” Harris said. “She needed to be placed in a nursing home. Kathy Kemle was the first to recognize that my mother needed more help and Kathy helped us with difficult decisions. She was there for me as a competent clinician, counselor and friend.”
Kemle’s immense value to her practice is best expressed by her supervising physician, Richard J. Ackerman, M.D, who wrote in his letter of recommendation, “If and when she retires, I’m leaving with her.”
In addition to receiving the crystal Outstanding PA of the Year Award, Kemle will be presented with a check for $2,500. This award is made possible with the support of Pfizer Inc.
Physician assistants are licensed health professionals who practice medicine as members of a team with their supervising physicians. PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services to diverse populations in rural and urban settings. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and prescribe medications.
AAPA is the only national organization to represent physician assistants in all medical and surgical specialties. Founded in 1968, the Academy works to promote quality, cost-effective health care, and the professional and personal growth of PAs. For more information about the Academy and the PA profession, visit the AAPA’s Web site, www.aapa.org.