Michael Rackover, Physician Assistant Program director, receives prestigious outstanding service award

Michael Rackover, PA-C, associate professor and director of the Physician Assistant Program, received a prestigious award for outstanding service today by the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).

The award, which honors an individual who has provided sustained, exceptional service or leadership to the association or has contributed to the advancement of the PA profession, was presented at the group’s annual meeting in Savannah, Ga.

“The committee was particularly impressed by your commitment to genomics, which members felt had single-handedly increased awareness among PA educators for the importance of genetics in the PA profession,” PAEA President Dana Sayre-Stanhope and Nomination and Awards Committee Chair Anita Glicken said in a Sept. 22 letter notifying Rackover that he would be receiving the award.

“I am humbled and honored to accept this award,” Rackover said.  “Teaching and learning genetics is a benefit to physician assistants and their patients as the scientific research is translated to the clinical practice of medicine. The information will improve healthcare primary prevention and help individualize patient and family care.”

“Leading a relatively small, elite Physician Assistant Program while maintaining a high level genomics research agenda is a remarkable feat,” said Philadelphia University President Stephen Spinelli Jr.  “Of course, Rocky is a remarkable person and professor.”

Rackover “has excelled in clinical practice, administration, teaching, scholarship and service to his local community and the PA profession,” Matt Dane Baker, dean of the School of Science and Health, said in recommending his colleague for the award.

Known by many simply as “Rocky,” he worked for years as a radiation oncologist PA, “acting as a resource, advocate, healer and confidant to numerous patients and their families,” Baker said.  In his later role as an educator, Rackover “demonstrated outstanding professional leadership and has touched the lives of hundreds of PAs as a teacher, role model and mentor,” he continued.

Rackover also was recommended for the award by Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., until recently the director of the National Human Research Genome Institute (NHRGI), who said that Rackover “has made signal contributions not only to the education of physician assistants, but to the education of all of our nation’s health care providers.”

Rackover has been instrumental in educating students and current practitioners in the role genetics can play in a potentially historic improvement in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, Collins said in a letter to the PAEA.

“I cannot overstate how much Michael Rackover’s unique efforts to place physician assistants in the forefront nationally of efforts to integrate genetics and genomics effectively into daily patient care have not only advanced the PA profession and made it a model for other health professional disciplines, but also have served to improve the health of our patients for generations to come,” Collins continued.

Rackover, who joined Philadelphia University in 1995 and was named director of the PA program in 2005, has more than 40 years experience in health care, with particular expertise in radiation oncology and occupational medicine.  In 2006, he completed a four-month sabbatical at the NHRGI, part of the National Institutes of Health.  He currently is a consultant to that Institute and is on the board of directors for the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics.

In addition to his clinical work and teaching, Rackover has published articles in scholarly journals and has lectured widely on clinical and professional issues.  He was named 2003 Physician Assistant Educator of the Year by the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants.  He has been director at large on the board of directors of the PAEA and has worked with the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants as a test item writer.  Rackover received his B.A. degree and PA Certificate from MCP Hahnemann University and his M.S. in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania.

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