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News | June 13, 2024

Walter Reed Hosts Interservice Physician Assistant Program Graduation at USO

By James Black, WRNMMC, Office of Command Communications

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center proudly announces the graduation of 1st Lt. Joseph Love of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, and U.S. Army Capt. Maria Bienhoff, both of whom completed a rigorous program earning their master’s degrees under the auspices of the Interservice Physician Assistant Program (IPAP).

IPAP is a 29-month graduate program accredited by the University of Nebraska Medical Center and recognized by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA). Selection to the program is “highly competitive,” according to program director at Walter Reed, Air Force Lt. Col. Jennifer Middlebrooks. The initial 16-month didactic phase of the program is held at the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. It includes more than 100 semester hours encompassing 40 subjects and 101 exams, culminating in students earning a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Prior to being accepted into the IPAP, Love served 14 years with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard as a combat medic. In 2014, Love successfully donated one of his kidneys to his then team lead, U.S. Sgt. 1st Class Daniel S. Famous, who was born with a genetic disorder known as polycystic kidney disease.

Before accepting a commission with the U.S. Army, Bienhoff participated in the Reserve Officers’ Training Program (ROTC) at Appalachian State University and served three years with the North Carolina National Guard.

Physician Assistants (PAs) in the U.S. military perform a variety of roles, including primary medical care, clinical duties, and patient care. They also play a key role in medical decision-making, patient education, and research. PAs can serve in all branches of the military, including the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
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