Capt. Michael Hunt, USMA Class of 1998 and former instructor in the Department of Physical Education, joined Officer Candidate Kathleen Gibbons, medic and patient administration at the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, as the newest graduates of the Interservice Physician Assistant Program.
A graduation and commissioning ceremony for Gibbons was held at Keller Army Community Hospital June 6. Gibbons was commissioned as a first lieutenant after receiving her degree.
The IPAP is an intensive medical program training officers, enlisted personnel, warrant officers, National Guard and Reserve Officers to provide a broad range of medical and surgical services as part of a team with a supervising physician.
Keller Army Community Hospital Commander Col. Felicia Pehrson presents Capt. Michael Hunt, a USMA Class of 1998 graduate, an Interservice Physician Assistant Program Certificate June 6 after completing 16 months in the Physician’s Assistant Program Phase 1 in San Antonio, Texas, and Phase 2 at KACH.
Physician assistants work closely with physicians and they’re educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training. The intensive medical training involves 16 months training at joint base San Antonio–Fort Sam Houston, Texas, for the first phase and another 13 months for phase 2 to be completed at selected military hospitals and facilities for clinical training.
KACH is one of the facilities selected for phase 2, where Gibbons and Hunt completed their educational requirements for the PA program.
Although the training was difficult for Gibbons, she expressed heartfelt emotions when she told her husband and mom how grateful she was for their support, especially her mom who took care of her son while she was in training.
“Leaving my son for more than a year was the hardest thing I have ever had to do,” Gibbons said. “I am so grateful for the support my husband and mom have given me during this time.”
Gibbons came in as a medic when she enlisted in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard at Fort Indiantown Gap and although interested in the physician assistant program, she wasn’t quite sure she could do it.
“I had the application, but just kept putting it off. Then I found a packet my mentor sent me and was told I only had a short time to apply,” Gibbons said. “I applied and was accepted into the program.”
Gibbons will return to Fort Indiantown Gap as a physician assistant.
Hunt commissioned as an Aviation second lieutenant and served in various positions at Fort Drum, New York, the Republic of Korea and Kosovo. After receiving his master’s of education degree in health and physical education, he returned to West Point to teach in the Department of Physical Education.
“We as PAs are battalion level providers and caregivers for battalions,” Hunt said. “I was in Iraq and we had a PA and his medics and a practical surgical team. PA’s are deployed as providers on the ground for Soldiers and work under a physician. The PAs had access to a doctor in case he or she was needed.”
KACH has been involved in the PA program since 2009 as one of the hospitals that assists PA’s to complete the second clinical phase of the program.
“We rotate through the hospital, maybe three to seven rotations and work with the physicians here,” Hunt explained. “We shadow physicians and see patients.”
After Hunt was accepted into the IPAP, he deployed to Iraq with the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment in support of Operation New Dawn and began his phase 1 of the IPAP at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, upon his return.
Following graduation, Hunt will return to Fort Drum as a physician assistant with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team.