Salus University’s Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program is welcoming back one of its own.

Michelle Fischer, MMS ‘09, who was in the first PA graduating class, has joined the faculty. Her first day officially back on campus was March 2, and she was welcomed in her department with open arms, flowers and cookies.

Michelle Fischer“I got to experience the initiation of the Physician Assistant program, which was exciting,” said Fischer, who will start out teaching Physical Diagnosis. “Having received my education here, then having been out in the field for 11 years of clinical practice, and now being back . . . it’s pretty special.”

While a student at Salus, Fischer, whose undergraduate degree is in neuroscience, had her first clinical rotation in family medicine in a practice in North Philadelphia. “I was offered a job at my very first clinical rotation. I think it was clear that my Salus education had really prepared me to be a great practitioner,” she said. For the next several years, she practiced family medicine, outpatient internal medicine, orthopedics and urgent care.

“I always had in my mind that I would be an educator at some point,” said Fischer. “I think in order to educate you need enough experience practicing to have context for what you’re teaching. After more than a decade of practice I am ready and excited to come full circle and help educate an excellent generation of new PAs.”

Donna Agnew, MSPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, interim dean of the University’s College of Health Sciences and director of the PA program, is happy to have Fischer back on campus, the third alum to join the PA faculty in the past 10 years.

“The PA faculty and staff are excited to welcome Michelle back home to Salus. Her extensive experience in primary care will serve her well as she acclimates to her new academic role. As an alum, she brings a unique and valued perspective to our faculty and student discussions,” she said.

Although there aren’t any instructors left in the department from when she was a Salus student, Fischer said she’s really looking forward to working with her current Salus colleagues in a contemporary context.

“When you’re in practice, you’re very busy and it’s somewhat solitary,” she said. “Now to be working so closely with my PA faculty colleagues is something I am really looking forward to.” After her graduation from Salus, Fischer wasn’t a complete stranger to campus. She visited several times over the years and has remained friends with some of the people who have moved on.

As for what she’d like to accomplish now as a member of the faculty, Fischer said she has some initial goals she’d like to pursue.

“First, to really learn the ins and outs of the program again. They’ve developed so much since I was a student,” she said. “Granted, the core objective is still there, to provide a superior education with a focus on early clinical experience. That goal has remained unchanged. The program is continually integrating new technology and teaching strategies into the curriculum to help give students the best possible education and prepare them for a successful career in medicine. My goal is to be an active participant in that process so the program can continue to graduate excellent practitioners.”

But now that her ‘Day One’ jitters are behind her, she’s ready to hit the ground running as she starts her teaching career.

“I’m really excited. It was surreal coming back to campus on my first day,” said Fischer, who has two children, 2 ½-year-old son Jack and six-month-old daughter Fiona. “So much is the same, but so much has changed. The campus is so similar that for a moment it almost felt like no time had passed.”