Heather Bidinger is not one to seek out accolades or recognition for the job she does, but because of the way she performs Bidinger has demonstrated, in the minds of her peers, she is one of the best.
Being named the 2013 Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants (MAPA) physician assistant of the year is one indication of her success.
The award, which is presented annually to an outstanding physician assistant (PA) in Minne-sota, was given to Bidinger March 8. It recognizes her as one who “exemplifies and embodies the qualities and philosophies that characterize the PA profession.”
Bidinger, a graduate of Redwood Falls-Morton High School knew at an early age she wanted to be involved in the medical field, but not as a PA.
“I wanted to be a doctor,” she said, admitting when she started college she did not even know what a PA was.
Bidinger said she always enjoyed science classes in school, and that led her to the University of St. Thomas where she earned a degree in psychology.
Then she applied to medical school and began the next stage of her education at St. Louis University in Missouri.
In addition to studying the chemistry and biology of medicine, Bidinger said her study of the psychological side of humanity has helped prepare her to understand the value of treating the whole person.
Rather than spend more time in school, Bidinger learned about and pursued the PA program, which provided her the academics of the profession without the required time doing the clinicals one needed to become a physician.
The difference be-tween a physician and a PA, explained Bidinger, is she is required to have another physician serve in an oversight capacity.
“A physician assistant can do 80-85 percent of the things a doctor can do,” she said.
She is able to diagnose illnesses and prescribe medications, she can deliver babies and even do some operations, but it all needs to be done under the watchful eye of a doctor.
That does not mean every time she is seeing a patient the doctor is in the room with her, but as some decisions are made Bidinger consults with that doctor providing ov-ersight. She called it a de-pendent medical model.
After taking the PA lic-ensing exam and becoming a certified PA (she must recertify every six years), Bidinger returned to Minnesota and started working in Waconia.
During those two years of family practice, Bidinger’s family, which now includes husband, Scott and their five children, was growing, as were her opportunities for professional growth.
Through her relationship with a supervisory physician, Bidinger was able to begin teaching at Augsburg College, which then led to one of the most significant tasks of her career.
Page 2 of 2 - In Fall 2009, Bidinger was hired by St. Catherine’s University to help develop a PA program.
Over the next couple of years, Bidinger developed, in conjunction with peers, committees and advisors, a program designed to meet state board of higher education and national accreditation standards.
The program was officially approved in January 2012, and this past September the first class of prospective physician assistants was filled.
Bidinger now serves as director of that program serving in various roles from teaching classes to overseeing the budget and staff.
In addition to that, Bidinger also continues to keep up her PA certification and is working when she can in Renville County.
Yes, after being away from their roots, the Bidingers returned to the Redwood area, and call Redwood Falls home. That also means Bidinger is spending a couple of days driving to the university for her role there.
Bidinger expressed her appreciation for the support of husband, Scott, who has helped fill in the familial role while she continues in her career.
Any recognition Bidinger receives is all part of a family effort, she said.
Bidinger said she was honored to be recognized by her peers.
While Bidinger enjoys her role teaching classes on the legal and ethical side of medicine, working with the 10 faculty and ensuring the program provides what students need to succeed, she is just as at home in a hospital setting helping in the emergency room, working with patients and helping people improve their health.
After all, that is why she got in the field in the first place.