(December 27, 1944- October 19, 2014)
Class of 1969
Ronald L. Peterson decided to apply to the PA Program upon returning home to Austin, Texas after serving two years as a Navy hospital corpsman. He was accepted, and matriculated into the program in 1967. During Ron’s time at Duke, he was honored to work alongside other PA graduates and students to help establish the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
After graduating from Duke, which was then a certificate program, he moved to Philippi, West Virginia, where he completed the hours necessary to obtain a Bachelor of Medical Science from Alderson-Broaddus College. In addition to completing his own coursework, Ron taught clinical skills to the PA students at the newly opened Alderson-Broaddus College PA Program. After finishing his studies in Philippi, Ron was recruited by Dr. Henry MacIntosh to the Medicine and Cardiology department at the Baylor College of Medicine, Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX. There, Ron worked as the only PA in Houston evaluating patients of Dr. Michael Debakey, the earliest transplant surgeon in the US. After several months at Methodist Hospital, Ron was asked to take a position at the VA Hospital in Houston as an intern on one of the Internal Medicine wards. After completing a year in inpatient service – where the hours were long, but the learning experience was rich – Ron went on to work for the next five years in a Medicine outpatient clinic, an inpatient Pulmonary unit, and a long-term care ward. During Ron’s time at the Houston VA, the decision was made to open a PA program at Baylor. Ron was instrumental in helping open the program, and went on to become one of the first instructors and the Assistant Director.
In 1975, Ron left Houston to work in an expanding outpatient clinic at the VA in Oklahoma City. For the next 25 years, Ron worked at the Oklahoma City VA in primary care/emergency care and, as always, he taught PA students in the classroom and in the clinic. Ron’s experience at the VA was full of learning opportunities and professional growth. Providers’ approach to medical care, and within the VA system in particular, went through many changes in 25 years. Ron met each challenge and difficult transition with a positive, patient-centered attitude. Ron won many awards, including the “Heart and Hands Award,” but has stated that his most important award was the knowledge that he had given care to a group of people who deserve the best care we can give.
Ron retired from federal service in 2000 and took some time to travel and spend time with family. In 2001, he accepted yet another new challenge, and began working at a private urology practice in Oklahoma City. Ron spent 7 years treating urologic patients and learning a significant amount about urologic care. In 2009, Ron retired again from clinical practice.