Former Senior Physician Assistant
Lake Gaston Medical Center, Inc.
Class of 1978
John Wharton grew up in Reidsville, NC and spent time in the US Air Force prior to enrolling and graduating from East Carolina University (BA, Biology), Greenville, NC in 1974. While in college, Mr. Wharton worked part-time as an orderly and as an operating room technician at the Beaufort County Hospital in Washington, NC. Like many other applicants to the PA program, Mr. Wharton worked as a surgical care assistant on Nott Ward at the Duke University Hospital to gain additional health care experience to improve his credentials for the PA Program.
After graduation, Mr. Wharton sought employment in a rural, medically underserved community. He found a position with two physicians who were establishing a community health clinic in Littleton, NC. He assisted the physicians in developing plans for the clinic, hiring and training support personnel. Mr. Wharton became a role model for students interested in providing primary health care in similar communities. He was a clinical preceptor for the Duke University program and a highly regarded practitioner in the community. Mr. Wharton became actively involved in civic and community activities to improve health care, education and work opportunities in Littleton and surrounding communities.
Mr. Wharton was tragically killed in a car accident on the North Carolina-Viginia state border in April 1986. He was 39 years old. Many local residents and prominent community leaders attended his funeral and memorial services. He was remembered for his compassion and dedication to helping the community overcome many of its socioeconomic problems and a scholarship fund was established in his honor to be awarded to a deserving young person from the community. Mr. Wharton was awarded the PA Program's distinguished alumni award posthumously in 1988 for his clinical and humanitarian services to his community and his mentorship of Duke PA students who rotated through the clinic.