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Gregor Bennett, PA, DFAAPA

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Gregor Bennett is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA).  This is a title he earned and richly deserves for his outstanding service to his country, his patients, and his colleagues.  In his 44-year history as a PA, he served as a clinician, a leader, and a mentor.  In recognition of his dedication, he received the Navy Achievement Medal twice (1984 and 1988), the Navy Commendation Medal (1992), and then the Ron L. Nelson Service to the Profession Award (2016) from the Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants.

He was born in northwest Michigan and grew up in the small town of Bear Lake along with his parents, 3 sisters and 321 small town connections.  He graduated high school in the same building in which he started kindergarten; his graduating class was 31 students.

After attending Central Michigan University for two years, Bennett had not quite solidified his path to the future.  With the Vietnam war still going on in the spring of 1970, Bennett visited a Marine recruiter and said he wanted to be a “medic”.  He was informed that the Marines relied on the Navy for their corpsmen and that there was a great need for them. There was a six month wait to enter the Navy except for recruits desiring to become corpsmen, thus, he was asked to leave for training immediately.

In 1970, Bennett entered the Navy and was trained to serve as a general duty hospital corpsman.  After boot camp and hospital corps school in Great Lakes, Illinois, he went to the Naval Regional Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina where he was trained to be a respiratory therapist.  Following that training, he was promoted to HM2 (E-5) and asked to consider what area of administration he wanted to pursue.  He really thrived in the clinical aspect of his duties and was not anxious to make a change to administration.  He recalled his father’s advice: “If you find a job that makes you want to get out of bed and go to work in the morning, please go do that.” While he was working at the Naval Hospital in Beaufort, South Carolina, he began the process of applying to the military PA program. In 1974, he embraced the opportunity to become a PA after being selected as one of 129 candidates out of 2,200 applicants.  He was trained at the joint Navy/Air Force PA program at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas which was provided by the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine. One of Bennett’s classmates was future AAPA president, William Marquardt.

From 1976 to 1992, Bennett served at Navy health care facilities in five states, providing office-based practice and emergency services.  It was during this time that he began to realize his capability for an administrative role.  He served as a member of the executive committee of the medical staff at two locations and was a member of quality care committees in all locations – also serving as chair at one. Bennett served as Chief PA at all locations and was Department Head at three.  During his enlistment he also worked part time in various civilian emergency departments as well as acute care settings.

Upon his retirement from the Navy in 1992, Bennett began work in the Spectrum Health System in Grand Rapids, MI, where he provided clinical services in the emergency department, urgent care centers and at family practice offices until 2014.  His administrative functions included Director of Midlevel Practitioners, Support Services Manager, and Director of Urgent Care Operations. He was a member of the Ambulatory Butterworth Executive Committee, the Professional Standards Committee, and the Spectrum Health Specified Professional Personnel Committee.  In 2007, he obtained a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix.  In 2015, having proven himself a capable leader, Bennett became the first PA in Spectrum Health to be appointed Clinical Lead of one of the Spectrum Health Medical Group Urgent Care Centers in Grand Rapids.  He was also appointed to the Advanced Practice Professional Workgroup and assumed the position of Director of Advanced Practice Practitioner (APP) Services for Primary Care until 2017.  Bennett subsequently went on to work in locum tenens and per diem professional situations as he eased into retirement.

Between 1992 and 2009, Bennett assumed multiple leadership positions which allowed him to give back to the profession that had given him so much opportunity and reward.  For the Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants (MAPA) he served as a Regional Director, President-Elect, President (1997-1998) and Past President between 1992 – 1999.  As President, Bennett initiated action along with the Michigan Department of Community Health resulting in finalization of rules for prescribing of controlled substances by PAs.  He also led the organization to hire a full-time lobbyist and a full-time executive director.  He then served as Chair of their Legislative and Governmental Affairs Committee from 2010 -2013 and has served as a member of that committee since 2014.   As Chief Delegate for MAPA from 1998 to 2001 he also served on the AAPA House Standing Rules Committee and Chaired the Reference Committee on Bylaws and Operations.  His involvement with AAPA continued to grow and between 2001 – 2009 with him serving as Director at Large, Chair of the Board of Directors, President-elect, President, Immediate Past President, and Chair of the Board again.  During his time as President (2007-2008), he guided the organization through the challenging time following the resignation of Executive Vice President, Stephen Crane.

With so much clinical and administrative experience it was a natural fit for Bennett to become involved academically between 1993 and 2017.  As a clinical preceptor he provided experiences for PAs from the Western Michigan University, University of Detroit/Mercy, Chicago Medical School, Midwestern University, and SUNY Stony Brook PA programs and the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine medical students. At Grand Valley State University, he taught an introduction to health care administration course and while at Central Michigan University he designed and taught a graduate level course titled “Issues in Practice” which provided students with the ability to consider the clinical and administrative challenges practitioners face.  Bennett has continued to assist in the student selection process for the Grand Valley State University PA Program.

Retirement has not seen Bennett slow down.  He enjoys golf, and he and his wife Ginny try to keep up with the activity generated by their son, daughter, their spouses, and 5 grandchildren.

Acknowledgments: This biography was written by Steve Wilson with the assistance of Gregor Bennett and was submitted to the Society in March 2024. Photographs are courtesy of Mr. Bennett.

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