By Kate Hunger
Assistant Professor Rosalyn Rosas, MMS, PA-C, had planned to be a nurse, but a chance encounter with a physician assistant inspired her to pursue a new path.
The PA—who Rosas had initially mistaken for a surgeon—invited her to observe an open-heart surgery. Rosas accepted. In the OR, she was enthralled not only by the opportunity to hold the patient’s heart during the procedure, but also by the realization that she had just discovered her future profession.
Rosas joined the Department of Physician Assistant Studies faculty in February and is the on-site faculty member for the PA Studies program at the Laredo regional campus. The first cohort of students in Laredo began classes in May. Rosas said she was attracted to UT Health San Antonio by the caliber of the PA faculty and the opportunity to make a difference.
“I have always enjoyed being a founding PA,” she said. It gives me a sense of fulfillment seeing a program and students succeed. After learning about Laredo—its demographics, shortage of health care providers and its beautiful campus—I realized I was ready to take on the challenge to help Laredo accomplish its mission.”
Rosas grew up in the Philippines and earned a degree in biology from the University of the Philippines. She moved to the U.S. and enrolled in the accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program at Loyola University Chicago. After discovering her interest in the PA profession, she left nursing school and enrolled in the PA Studies program at Saint Francis University. She has been in practice as a cardiothoracic and vascular surgery PA since 2007, with a clinical interest in surgical critical care, minimally invasive cardiothoracic surgery and adult congenital heart disease.
Rosas is no stranger to building programs and promoting the PA profession. She most recently served as the lead and founding physician associate in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Oxford. Founded more than 50 years ago in the U.S., the physician assistant profession is far newer in the UK, she noted.
“The lead thoracic surgeon, Ms. Elizabeth Belcher, was very interested in what PAs can do in the practice,” Rosas said. “She recruited me and gave me the opportunity to experience and serve in the National Health Service (NHS) in England. I figured it would be an adventure and a challenging experience promoting the profession and introducing it.”
Rosas has held academic appointments at Northern Arizona University and Indiana University and has served as a staff PA in cardiac surgery at Cleveland Clinic, Medical College of Wisconsin, Mayo Clinic, Lake-Porter Cardiovascular and Duke University Medical Center.
Rosas is an exciting addition to the faculty, said Paul B. Allen, Sr., DSc, MPAS, PA-C, FAAPA, associate professor and program director and chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies.
“She brings a wealth of experience to the position,” he said. “Her international experience while assisting the National Health Service in Great Britain in their implementation of the PA concept will be an asset to both our program and our faculty.”