Evan Schulz, MMS ‘19: 2024 Physician Assistant Alumni of the Year Award
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Evan Schulz, MMS ‘19: 2024 Physician Assistant Alumni of the Year Award

Evan Schulz AOY group photo

As a student in the Salus University Physician Assistant Studies (PA) program, Evan Schulz, MMS ‘19, was intimidated by cardiac surgery. He thought the PAs who went into that specialty were crazy and that pursuing that career path was way out of reach for him.

So what’s Schulz doing now? He’s the lead Physician Assistant for a new Cardiac and Vascular Surgical Program at Capital Health Hospital in Trenton, New Jersey, where he manages a team of five PAs who service two cardiac surgeons and four full-time vascular surgeons.

So much for being intimidated by cardiac and vascular surgery.

Evan Schulz and MHM AOY award picAnd now he’s the University’s PA Alumni of the Year for 2024. He, along with Alumni of the Year winners from other Salus programs, were honored at the annual recognition reception June 2, 2024, at Pinecrest Country Club in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

“I was completely caught off guard. I was over the moon beside myself. I totally wasn’t expecting it. It was a wonderful surprise and a real honor,” said Schulz about receiving the award.

Originally from Cranford, New Jersey, Schulz completed his undergraduate work at State University of New York (SUNY) Binghamton. He had initially gone to school thinking about being an ecologist, but then realized he liked working with people and needed a way to combine that with his love of the sciences.

“My father was an OR nurse and he pushed me to consider healthcare. I started shadowing and volunteering at the VA Hospital in NJ and thinking of maybe being a surgeon or a nurse.  One day, I met a PA named Martha who explained her career to me and I was immediately interested. The training, flexibility, and lifestyle was a great fit for me and I never looked back,” said Schulz.

Of his interviews, Salus seemed like the best fit. He liked the hands-on approach the University has with its PA students, getting them into the clinic earlier than some of the other schools he considered.

After graduation, Schulz completed an advanced training Fellowship for Acute Care Surgery at Capital Health Hospital in New Jersey. In 2022, the group announced it was rolling out a new Cardiac Surgical program at one of its hospitals in Trenton.

“They asked me to join and help them build a program,” said Schulz. “We came up with a curriculum and a means of training new PAs, both in the Capital Health model and in cardiovascular surgery.”

Schulz admits that he’s a bit surprised that his professional path has gone the way it has to this point.

“In fact, none of my life has gone in the direction I thought it would go,” he said. “Did I know I was going to be doing cardiac and vascular surgery? Absolutely not. Am I surprised now, this many years out of school, that I’ve taken this direction? No. It seems like the perfect fit.”

An adjunct in the Salus PA program teaching surgical topics, Schulz admits he also likes giving back to the next generation.

“When you’re in the hospital and you’re taking care of post-cardiac surgical patients, it can be very stressful and time consuming, as well as very rewarding,” he said. “But I feel like when I teach, it’s a terrific chance to brush up and go back on some things. Understand them in a new way that I can explain to someone else. It’s incredible to see that spark go off in some people’s eyes and remember how you felt as just starting out.”

As for his future, Schulz said if he could be in the OR seven days a week, he would be happy doing that. But as his career path continues to unfold, he hopes to pick up more teaching duties while staying the in realm of cardiac and vascular surgery.

When he’s not in the OR or ICU, Schulz like being outside as much as possible, hiking, backpacking and occasionally some rock climbing. He lives in Philadelphia, so there’s a lot going on, especially concerts, which he enjoys attending.

“I tell myself the same thing that I tell my students when I’m teaching at the University: Always stay open, you never know what opportunities are going to present themselves and which people you are going to bump into who could potentially offer you a change,” he said.

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