Breaking News
  • We are now accepting applications for our full-term Trustee and Student Trustee positions! See below for more information!


O.T. “Ted” Wendel, PhD, MS

X icon

O.T. “Ted” Wendel has been a dedicated advocate for physician assistants (PAs) and a respected PA educator for many years. In the early 1970s, he played a crucial role in establishing the bioscience component of the curriculum at Wake Forest University’s new PA school. His name remains on the Wake Forest PA Program curriculum – the first ever published PA curriculum. Throughout his career, Wendel has been instrumental in the development of two PA programs: Western University in Pomona, California in 1991 and the ATSU Central Coast PA Program in Santa Maria, California in 2021. He was recognized with an Honorary PA Certificate from the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona, California in 1995. Dr. Wendel also served on the editorial advisory board of Clinician Reviews, a professional journal for PAs and NPs, from 2015 to 2019. In 1992, he acted as a peer reviewer for the Department of Medicine on PA Training Grants. Additionally, he was a member of the board of directors of the NCCPA Health Foundation from 2010 to 2018, serving as Chair during 2017-2018.

Wendel’s upbringing in northeast Philadelphia during the baby boom era shaped his values and ambitions. Despite facing early challenges, including the loss of his sister to leukemia, his parents instilled in him the importance of education. Growing up in a vibrant, diverse neighborhood in Philadelphia, Wendel developed a curiosity for different cultures and traditions. His passion for photography, passed down from his father, has remained a significant aspect of his life since childhood.

Two pivotal events steered Wendel toward a career in PA education. The first was a chance encounter with Dr. William McKinney, a renowned neurologist, during his time at St. Andrews University. Dr. McKinney’s mentorship led Wendel to a fellowship at Wake Forest University, where he pursued graduate studies in pharmacology. The second event occurred in 1971 when he was introduced to the emerging field of physician assistant education at Wake Forest. This experience sparked his interest in healthcare education and set him on a path to becoming a leader in the field. His proudest achievements include his contributions to the establishment of new healthcare programs and his role in shaping the next generation of healthcare professionals.

One of Wendel’s most formidable challenges arose during his initial semester at Wake Forest, where he found himself as the sole graduate student in a medical school biochemistry class. Unlike in his previous experiences, he lacked the support of a student network available to medical students, leading to a difficult start and a disappointing grade in that first semester. Faced with the decision to persevere or pursue a different path, Wendel received crucial support from his advisor, Dr. Larry Pearce, who helped him integrate into a supportive group of medical students. Wendel’s determination and hard work paid off as he excelled in his second attempt at biochemistry and succeeded in all his other courses. This experience underscored the power of collaborative learning in a small group setting, a principle that later became central to the Wake Forest PA program.

Over the years, Wendel had the privilege of working as a photojournalist with organizations such as Project Hope, documenting the efforts of medical teams in response to natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes. He also volunteered as a photojournalist with the US Navy Public Affairs team aboard the USNS Mercy for Pacific Partnership missions in 2012 and 2016. Additionally, he served as a medical consultant to the Phoenix Suns and the NBA Trainers Association from 2006 to 2012, focusing on medications and supplements.

Being part of the team that established the new Mesa campus of A.T. Still University in 2000 was a source of immense pride and accomplishment for Wendel. Knowing that numerous healthcare professionals across various disciplines have graduated from programs he contributed to, all dedicated to addressing the nation’s healthcare needs, brings him great satisfaction. He takes immense pride in his daughters, Laura, and Sarah, who have grown into strong, values-driven women. As a devoted grandfather to his granddaughter, Jordy, family remains a cornerstone of his life.

Wendel continues to serve as the Senior Vice-President of Planning at A.T. Still University in Mesa, AZ, relishing the challenges of leadership in a mission-driven educational institution. He remains committed to honing his photography skills, transitioning from a part-time photojournalist to focusing on creating fine art street photography.

Acknowledgments: This biography was written by Randy Danielsen with the assistance of Ted Wendel. It was submitted to the Society in May 2024. All photographs are courtesy of Dr. Wendel.

When using information from this biography, please provide the proper citation as described within the PA History Society Terms of Use.