Margaret Mulligan, MD, is “ready to roll” with her second retirement after 10 years as an associate professor in the University’s Physician Assistant (PA) program.
She came to academia later in her career after being in private practice for 33 years as a family physician. Someone she knew asked her if she had ever considered teaching. Dr. Mulligan considered the suggestion and decided that yes, she would be interested in sharing her knowledge and experience with students learning to be physician assistants.
“I decided to reduce my practice to half-time and begin teaching clinical medicine at Salus,” she said. “Family medicine treats a broad range of medical conditions while developing strong therapeutic relationships with patients and their families. It was important for me to share not just the medical knowledge but how to build strong communication skills with patients.”
Dr. Mulligan joined the core faculty of the Physician Assistant Program in 2011, has lectured about clinical medicine and has been the course director of Clinical Problem Solving courses. She found a tremendous dedication from the students within what is a challenging and intense program.
“We have tough criteria for student admission as they have to be well-equipped to learn throughout a rigorous program. Teaching students to read medical research in a skilled way is also critically important since learning and relearning best medical practices will continue throughout their medical careers,” she said.
The program director and faculty are deeply dedicated to support students’ learning throughout the 25-month program, according to Dr. Mulligan. The camaraderie, good humor, intelligence and accountability of the faculty to maintain and grow a superb medical education are things that have consistently stood out during her tenure.
She credited the leadership of former PA program director Donna Agnew, MSPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, for bringing new aspects into the program and maintaining a 100 percent first-pass rate on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), the national licensure exam.
“Our program is a small health sciences university but, even though we are small, we are strong. The program has an excellent national reputation,” she said.
Dr. Mulligan pointed out how both faculty and students reacted to the educational challenges forced by the pandemic.
“We were already technically advanced in using electronic educational platforms and that enabled us to pivot to additional online learning as needed,” said Dr. Mulligan, who believes the pandemic has completely changed education and medical care moving forward. “We had to be well organized. All of the faculty put in an extraordinary amount of additional time to offer online platforms and Google Meet-ups for students to practice their chops on clinical cases within both the didactic and clinical years. It has been personally rewarding to see each student progress and develop a vast amount of medical knowledge during their program at Salus, especially during this past year.”
As for how Dr. Mulligan is going to spend her time in retirement, she is excited to have more time for her artwork — charcoal and watercolors — of portraiture and landscapes, and fabric art. She’s also an avid walker, gardener and reader.
“I don’t stay still too much,” she said. “I will continue to stay current with medical developments in the literature, but I’m excited to spend more time with family and friends. And, I remain grateful and proud of the accomplishments of our PA program and its graduates.”