Northwestern College physician assistant students to graduate August 12

Jill Van Otterloo, director and professor of practice of Northwestern's physician assistant program, addresses the graduating class of 2022.

The second cohort of students in Northwestern College’s physician assistant studies program will graduate Saturday, Aug. 12. Master’s degrees will be awarded to 29 students during a 10 a.m. ceremony in Christ Chapel.  

Northwestern’s 2023 physician assistant graduates hail from nine states, ranging from Vermont to Utah and North Dakota to Kansas. During their commencement, they’ll hear a reflection from Samantha Moss, a member of their class, and listen to an address given by Heath Reinke, an orthopedics physician assistant at Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

Heath Reinke

Northwestern President Greg Christy and Dr. Chester DeJong, medical director for the physician assistant studies program, will confer degrees and present diplomas. Hooding of the master’s degree recipients will be done by Jill Van Otterloo, program director, and Brett Bastian and Jaclyn Freese, professors of practice in physician assistant studies. Lori Anderson, another professor of practice in physician assistant studies, will lead the graduates in reciting the Physician Assistant Professional Oath.

This year’s commencement speaker specializes in adult joint reconstruction as a physician assistant. Reinke graduated from Northwestern in 2002 with bachelor’s degrees in both biology–health professions and secondary education, then spent nearly seven years in the Navy as a hospital corpsman. Following his service, he returned to school and completed the University of Iowa’s physician assistant program in 2012. This summer marks 11 years of practice for him as a physician assistant in orthopedics.

In addition to serving on the advisory board for Northwestern’s physician assistant program, Reinke is a guest lecturer for the program and mentors physician assistant students enrolled at Northwestern and other schools.

Study to become a physician assistant at Northwestern College

Northwestern's master's degree program in physician assistant studies gives students practice-based training to prepare them to provide exceptional, compassionate health care in a variety of settings.