Friday, April 17, 2009

PA school

(This photo has nothing to do with this post, but I love this shot (courtesy of le Buzz himself) from the Flatiron scramble series this past fall. We all had La Sportiva's, which are the BEST shoes for running the Flatirons series. Ava though had onher comfy wool knicker-socks and couldn't have been cuter!)

A couple weeks I got a call from the program director one of the physician assistant programs I'd interviewed at this past winter. 1.5 years ago, I'd picked up where I'd left off during college with medicine and biology and hammered out the remaining pre-requisite sciences to apply to PA schools..and I got the call I'd wanted for so long!
For those who know me, professionally it's been a long haul to decide what I want to be when I grow up. I was an EMT and WFR for several years, rode on an ambulance, and used wilderness medicine often in the experiential education courses I led. I taught at a bunch of different schools from public and private to Outward Bound courses, and, besides maintaining CPR certification, left the emergency medicine side of me behind in the 1990's. The past 7 years have been, for the most part besides medical and classroom experience, written off as a loss in terms of professional development; I worked as a footwear testing coordinator for Salomon, then worked in residential real estate (which was at best mildly satisfying). But for running and adventure racing and general adventuringI have had a blast and I did have excellent support from several companies, notably GoLite (, so there was a financial incentive to put the hours in everyday to training and race focus.

Anyway.. studying medicine and its applications to public health is where I am headed and am happy as my dog rolling on his back in the dirt. They had 1400 applicants for 40 spots; lucky me.
Now we are heading into massive school loans and transition, it will be a long hard road (and I still will race trail and ultras on some of the country's best dirt), but we'll get through it all. It may be harder on Ellen than me. Through the last seven years Ellen has been a SAINT through my job turns in the road and now I am dragging her and Ava further West..thank you Ellen and Ava! School itself will be even more challenging than getting into school, but I am ready and focused. Now those loan apps..

From the Touro Website, the program mission and curriculum. Touro University ( is on Mare Island in San Pablo Bay in Vallejo, CA. The Marin trails are only 20 minutes away!

"The Joint MSPAS/MPH Curriculum is an integrated, graduate-level curriculum that consists of instruction and clinical experiences in both the medical and public health disciplines. The program is 32 months in length (8 academic sessions) in which the first four sessions are didactic (pre-clinical). The clinical year spans 54 weeks (sessions five – seven) and students return to campus for their eighth and final, post-rotation academic session. Session 8 coursework consists of mostly public health courses and one physician assistant summative course. Graduates of the program receive a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and a Master of Public Health. As a physician assistant, graduates are eligible for licensure to practice in all 50 states and Washington, DC. The Master of Public Health degree prepares the graduate by developing public health knowledge and principles including disease prevention, health promotion, epidemiology, biostatistics, health care administration, and research study and design. The combined curriculum prepares graduates to better understand the link between an individual's health and their environment. It is with this foundation that the program’s mission is founded upon.
Year 1 Session I August – December Basic Science Foundations/Principles of Pharmacology Anatomy w/Lab Microbiology/Laboratory Medicine Biostatistics Behavioral and Social Aspects of Public Health
Session II: January – April Clinical Medicine I Clinical Applications I w/Lab Pharmacology I Health Education and Promotion Medical Ethics Epidemiology
Session III: May – August Clinical Applications II Pharmacology II Clinical Medicine II Behavioral Medicine Program Evaluation & Needs Assessment Health Disparities & Community Organizing
Year 2 Session IV: August - December Pediatrics/Geriatrics Emergency Medicine Pharmacology III Clinical Medicine III Clinical Applications III Surgical and Clinical Skills w/Lab Research Methods
Session V-VII: January – January Public Health Field Experience Family Practice (12 weeks) Internal Medicine OB/GYN Emergency Medicine Surgery Pediatrics Elective (With the exception of Family Practice, each of the rotations are six-weeks in length for a total of 54 weeks)
Year 3 Session VIII: January – April MSPAS Summative Course MPH Capstone Health Services Administration Environmental Health
Internal Medicine?? What's that?


  1. Dave - Congratulations. Going to miss you around here but very excited that you are making this next step! Way to go man.

  2. Wow...Congrats!! I talked with you for a minute at AR50 at the race... you probably don't remember. I was thinking of doing a PA program here in the Central Valley of Calif... I LOVE Physiology.... and Health... congrats...
    I guess we'll be seeing you at the PCTR events in the bay area... there is some great competition and races almost every weekend... !

    take care..

    Ted Nunes

  3. I'm reminded of a song my mother used to sing to me in the wee dark AM hour, particularly Monday's I remember kindly. I'm sure you've heard this tune and it goes a little something like this.. "School days, school days dear old golden rule days. Readin and writing and arithimitic, taught to the tune of a hickory stick"..... well you get the drift. well anyways, congratulations on the induction into the school/practice and it looks like you will be fulfilling another part of your life. Enjoy.

    internal medicine? maybe the pharmaceutical waste excreted that the body did not process... no clue.

  4. Hey, that photo looks suspiciously like the one I sent to you and Buzz, in fact it is EXACTLY like it ;).

    Congrats again on getting into school, we'll really miss you around here.


  5. Jeff- Sorry man! I miscredited le Buzz. JV not only watched Ava while we raced the Flatirons that day, he also took the photo and didn't get credit. I'll cut you a check Jeff!
    Chippewa- I look forward to that upcoming hickory stick beating, in a weird self-bettering way.
    Ted- Nice to meet you at AR 50. I will try to check out some of those PCTR races too..
    GZ- I am still waiting to try your beer.. How about brewing one up called 100 days of Bear Stout?

  6. Dave - the current brew in the carboy is an IPA. Ought to be bottle ready in 5 weeks, or just about BB time. Let's share a couple post the finish line.

  7. Dave, as the only 2-time winner of the Tour de Flatirons and the current record holder on most of the courses, you will be sorely missed around Boulder. I think we need to expand the Tour de Flatirons to a nation-wide Tour de Scrambling and through in Royal Arches in Yosemite.

    Good luck and please stay in touch.


  8. "i always dreamed of going to college, back when i used to fall asleep in highschool."

    -Rodney dangerfield

    looking for a great ale to float your teeth in. I highly suggest splurging and purchasing a bottle of Gulden Draak.


  9. Bill- I'll miss you too, and i ain't gone yet! When you come out we'll link up some climbs..but I am too much of a wuss for vertical granite..Tueolumne meadows is more my style and I know you have some serious linkages up there you can drag me up. Oh yeah.. Stefan Griebel won the le Tour de flatirons twice also..

    Wynn..I will try that Gulden Draak sometime if GZ's doesn't cut the mustard, but I am sure it will..

  10. check it out... something to look forward to....

    and I don't have financial interest.... good luck this year...

  11. Hi Dave,
    I googled "PA/MPH programs" and your blog came up. Congratulations!!! Reading your post was further motivation for me to apply this year. Thanks for the post!

  12. Dave! I am a recent college graduate, and I'm now teaching Spanish and Adventure Ed at a small independent school in the South East. We have a similar history (I'm an EMT-IV and WFR, and I've done and am doing a lot of outdoor education myself) and a MPAS/MPH is looking like the next step for me. If you wouldn't mind, I'd really like to hear about your experience with the program and how it's going! Let me know if that's a possibility! Thanks!

  13. Fritsl.. feel free to email me and we can talk about PA school. It's quite an adventure to say the least dave.j.mackey at gmail dot com

  14. It is quite lovely picture with all the runners and your daughter in the middle of the picture.