PA grad-to-be ready to practice in Iowa

Jake Breitbach
Date: Monday, November 26, 2018

The Physician Assistant Studies program at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine will graduate 24 students in a ceremony beginning at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, in Prem Sahai Auditorium, 1110A Medical Education and Research Facility (MERF). The PA program is consistently ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report and was ranked No. 2 in the most recent survey.

About half of the program’s graduates stay in Iowa to practice. One of the 2018 graduates, Jake Breitbach, who grew up in Panora, Iowa, will be working in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at UI Hospitals & Clinics.

Why have you chosen to be a physician assistant?

Becoming a physician assistant will allow me to work in a field that I enjoy while helping people live healthier lives. I also love the flexibility of working as a physician assistant. It will allow me to move through different fields of medicine that interest me and enable me to have a high level of autonomy in patient care. This career is also great for work-life balance. I have a 2-year-old, and my wife and I plan to have more children. I want to be able to support my family while also spending as much time with them as I can.   

Was it your goal to stay in Iowa after you graduate?

Yes, I have lived in Iowa for most of my life. I love the culture, people, and environment that come with living and working in Iowa. It is a great place to work and raise a family. My wife and I have family in Iowa and Illinois, so living here allows us to spend time with our families.

Before you came to the UI, what experiences helped you decide on a career as a PA?

I did my undergraduate work at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I played football and received a degree in integrative physiology. I always had a feeling that I would end up in medicine, but I didn’t always know what form that would take. I took some time off after college and worked in a few different jobs, including personal training and sales. After working for a while, I realized I wasn’t fulfilled by the jobs I was doing. I knew I had to get back into the medical field, and I had a cousin who was going through the PA program at Iowa and had nothing but good things to say about it. That really got me thinking about becoming a PA. I loved the idea of a more flexible position that allowed me to have a lot of autonomy in taking care of patients but still allowed me to maintain a good balance with the rest of my life. I started my journey working in the emergency room to get health care experience and then started the PA program a year and a half later.

What are your long-term plans for your career?

My passion lies in critical care medicine. Someday I would like to be the lead advanced practice provider for a critical care team, whether that be in the ER, ICU, or other critical care service.   

What is the best thing about the UI program?

What I found most beneficial about our PA program was the integration with the MD program. It created an environment that fostered teamwork between PAs and MDs, and it allowed us to develop relationships with the people we will work alongside throughout our careers. It was also nice to know that we were receiving the exact same medical education as the MD students.