Katherine Adamson, PA-C, MMS, MA (1952- ), has been a continuously certified physician assistant since her graduation from the Emory University PA program in 1981. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Ms. Adamson has made an impact on the PA profession through her contribution to physician assistant education and as a former chair of the NCCPA.
Ms. Adamson began her career in medicine after receiving a diploma in nursing in 1973 from St. Joseph’s Infirmary School of Nursing. Immediately following, she served four years as a Staff Nurse in the United States Navy at the Jacksonville Naval Regional Medical Center and the Portsmouth Naval Regional Medical Center. Ms. Adamson worked her way up in the ranks of the Navy from Ensign to Lieutenant. Following her release from active duty, she graduated magna cum laude from Georgia State University in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Ms. Adamson’s desire for additional training and education in the medical field led her to complete her physician assistant training, and she earned a second bachelor’s degree in medical science from Emory University in 1981. She returned to school 13 years later and received a master’s of medical science from Saint Francis College in 1995. She was chosen to return to graduate school under the Air Force Institute of Technology program, and Ms. Adamson earned her fourth degree, a Master of Arts degree in Adult and Higher Education from the University of Texas, San Antonio in December 2001.
After practicing as a PA in the private sector for twelve years, Ms. Adamson joined the United States Air Force in 1993. While she was in the Air Force, Ms. Adamson served as Commander of the Air Force detachment at Fort Sam Houston, where she was also the Academic Coordinator with the Interservice PA Program, supervising 27 professors. Her service in the military has not gone unrecognized; Ms. Adamson has received over a dozen awards and recognitions since she entered the military in 1973, some of which include Instructor of the Year, Air Force Physician Assistant Program (1995), Air Force Meritorious Service Medal (2000, 2007), United States Air Force Physician Assistant of the Year (1997), Instructor of the Year, Interservice Physician Assistant Program (1997, 1999, 2000, and 2004), AAPA Veteran’s Caucus Physician Assistant of the Year (2001)and the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States Physician Assistant of the Year (1998). Ms. Adamson retired from the United States Air Force in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in December of 2007.
Numerous positions with the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) and the Air Force Surgeon General’s Office fill Ms. Adamson’s resume. From 1996-1999, she was the Department of Defense Representative to the Board of Directors of NCCPA, was an AAPA appointee to the NCCPA Board of Directors from 2000-2001, and served as President/Chairman of the Board in 2002. She is currently serving as Medical Adviser & Director of Disciplinary Review. Between March of 1997 and August of 2000, Ms. Adamson worked with the Air Force Surgeon General’s Office as the Malpractice Expert Reviewer.
Ms. Adamson is a published author as well as a national spokesperson for the PA profession, having presented to many different groups on various medical issues and PA certification topics. In March 2012, she participated in her third medical mission trip to Belize along with volunteers from NCCPA as well as 22 Baylor University medical students. Ms. Adamson traveled with the other volunteers to five remote clinics, where the team was able to evaluate 658 patients of the Mayan, Black and Creole cultures ranging in age from two months to 102 years. She treated the people of Belize for typical illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity to village environmental issues such as parasites, musculoskeletal complaints, hepatitis and a two-month old with pneumonia.
Ms. Adamson’s journey into what is now over three decades of dedication to the health care industry is not preceded by family history in, or a lifelong desire to enter into, medicine, as one might think. In contrast, Ms. Adamson recalls she decided to enter medicine (nursing school at the time) as a means to getting out on her own in the world. Little did she know, that one decision would lead her down a path that would establish her as one of the principals of the PA profession.
Ms. Adamson and her husband, Ronald E. Adamson, who is also a PA, reside in Spring Branch, Texas. They have a son, Zachary, age 26, and a daughter Sarah, age 22, who is following the family tradition and is currently a PA student.
Acknowledgments: This biography was written by Jennifer Walker, with the assistance of Katherine Adamson, and was submitted to the Society in June 2012.