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Wingate PA director promotes human touch
Jennifer Gaskins, Wingate Communications
November 30, 2009
4 MIN READ TIME

Wingate PA director promotes human touch

Wingate PA director promotes human touch
Jennifer Gaskins, Wingate Communications
November 30, 2009

Air Force lieutenant Gary Uremovich, with a freshly minted

master’s degree in counseling from Vanderbilt University, was feeling quite

confident on his clinical rounds one day while stationed in England.

The man who now directs Wingate University’s new physician

assistant’s program picked up a folder for his next patient. The woman was

pregnant and disheveled. She started relating her marital problems and her

feelings of isolation from her family back home. She felt overwhelmed by

financial and other troubles.

“When she saw the look on my face and saw that I didn’t know

what to do she looked at me and said ‘You really don’t care’ and left,” said

Uremovich.

Shocked and unprepared for such an encounter, Uremovich saw

that moment as a turning point early in his career. “It really woke me up and

inspired me to write an article in the USAF Digest about my lack of

communication skills that day,” he said.

Wingate University photo

Physician assistant students, from left, Tamim Alsaedi, Kristin Teague and Angie Shepherd get some feedback from Assistant Professor Rosalind Becker.

More importantly, the event inspired him to become a

competent and compassionate healthcare provider.

Today, Uremovich teaches relationship-centered care as

director of Wingate University’s Physician Assistant’s (PA) program. Part of

the reason he came to Wingate was the university’s motto: faith, knowledge and

service.

“It resonated with my values,” he said, values crystallized

through his hard lessons in England.

Students learn the importance of human communication from

the moment they step into class. They spend eight hours a month during their

first two semesters serving in homeless shelters, free clinics and outreach

activities.

“They learn early on how to connect with people, whether

it’s helping a drug addict or a homeless mother,” he said.

At Wingate, Uremovich intentionally designed the PA program

to be team-based and highly interactive. The 40 students currently enrolled

start out in classrooms on the main campus then quickly move into practice at

120 clinical sites in the area.

What makes Uremovich rare in his field is his theological

background. The Chicago native came to Christ at age 12 during a Billy Graham

crusade, and he recently earned a DMin degree in church administration.

“After the events of 9/11, I felt a call to be more involved

in ministry and transferred to the Trinity Theological Seminary in Indiana,”

said Uremovich.

He accepted a position as the Protestant Religious Education

Coordinator for Wright Patterson Air Force Base, the second largest in the U.S.

From 2001 to 2005 he coordinated religious education activities for five

chapels while also teaching in a Physician Assistant Program in Kettering, Ohio

and practicing in otolaryngology at the Springfield ENT clinic. The combination

of healthcare and ministry work makes sense for Uremovich, who firmly believes

“all real healing comes from the ‘Great Physician.’”

Now in its second year, the PA program at Wingate

University is only one of five in the state and145 in the U.S.

Campbell University will begin a PA program in 2011.

While

physician assistants have served patients since 1963, only recently did the

profession surge to the top of the list of hot careers. With 750 applicants

vying for 20 seats in the next class at Wingate University, Uremovich sees

great opportunity ahead. The university recently announced plans to build a

College of Health Sciences in 2010 on the main campus to accommodate more

students. Since he came to Wingate University in 2007 to launch the PA program,

Uremovich has dreamed of expanding the program globally.

“I would like to eventually develop clinical extension hubs

all over the U.S. and abroad where PA students can participate in educational

rotations in medical practices while being nurtured and housed within faith

communities,” he said.

Students may someday have an opportunity to reach out to

others across the seas as Uremovich did years ago in England and practice

relationship-centered healthcare.

More information about Wingate University’s

Master of Physician Assistant Studies program may be found at

www.pa.wingate.edu.