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
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.
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
“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
“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,”
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.
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
More information about Wingate University’s
Master of Physician Assistant Studies program may be found at