Born and raised in Philadelphia, Michael Rackover’s family moved to the Oxford Circle neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia, PA. He attended Carnell Elementary School, Fels Junior High School and was in the first class of George Washington High School. In 1963, he transferred to Northeast High School and graduated in June 1965.
Michael “Rocky” Rackover, MS, PA-C Emeritus, entered the United States Air Force in February 1967 and trained as a medic & X-ray technologist. He went on to have postings at Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base in Nakhon Sawan Province, Thailand and Hill Air Force Base in Utah. He left the service in September 1970.
Rackover worked in diagnostic radiology for 15 years before becoming a physician assistant. As a radiologic technologist at Hahnemann University doing research, Rackover met a young Nate Alston – then a student in Hahnemann’s PA Program in 1975 – who introduced him to the PA profession. Many years later after leaving his position as the radiology consultant for the Humana Corporation in Louisville, Kentucky, Rackover took off camping around the United States, living in San Francisco. He returned home to Philadelphia, applied to Hahnemann’s PA Program, and was accepted after being on the waitlist.
After graduating from Hahnemann University’s PA Program in Philadelphia in 1984, he worked clinically as a PA. In 1995, he completed his Masters of Science in Dynamics of Organization at the University of Pennsylvania. His combined 50 years of medical experience includes medic/radiological technologist in the US Air Force and as a PA in radiation oncology, occupational medicine, military physicals, and academia.
Rackover is an emeritus professor at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and has been involved with their PA program since its inception in 1995. He also served as their program director from 2005 until 2010.
Administrative and faculty appointments at Philadelphia University & Thomas Jefferson:
- 8/14/2015-Current Adjunct Teaching Faculty
- 6/2021-8/2021 Interim Program Director, PA Program East Falls and New Jersey Programs
- 7/2013-8/14/2015 Faculty and Coordinator of Admissions
- 9/2012-7/2013 Interim Program Director
- 8/2010-9/2012 Associate Program Director
- 2004-4/2005 Interim Program Director, PA Program
- 1999-2000 Interim Clinical Coordinator and Academic Coordinator
- 1995-2004 Academic Coordinator, PA Program
Rackover’s academic interests include oncology, personalized and preventative medicine, and a special interest in medical genomics education. This last interest led to a four-month sabbatical in 2006 as the only PA to work at the Human Genome Research Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland (September 2006-January 2007). Since that time, Rackover has championed the introduction of genetic literacy to PA student education and graduate education.
In addition to his clinical work and teaching, he has published several articles in scholarly journals and lectured widely on clinical and medical professional issues.
Rackover’s awards include the following:
- 2003 Physician Assistant Educator of the Year by the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants. (PSPA)
- 2008 Outstanding Service Award by the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).
- 2011 Outstanding PA of the Year PAragon Award winner from the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) at the 39th Annual Physician Assistant Conference in Las Vegas. He was recommended for this award by Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, who was the Director of the National Human Research Genome Institute (NHGRI), and now is the retired Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Collins commented that “Michael has made significant contributions not only to the education of physician assistants, but to the education of all of our nation’s health care providers.”
Rackover retired to Willow Valley Communities in Lancaster, PA in 2020. He enjoys photography, billiards and the outdoors.
Acknowledgments: This biography was written by Richard Vause with the assistance of Mr. Rackover. It was submitted to the Society in November 2022. Photographs are courtesy of Mr. Rackover.