Marilyn Olsen, MHS, PA-C, found her calling in the field of nephrology as soon as she graduated from PA school in 1998. She has held numerous leadership positions in the Student Academy of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA) and in the American Academy of Nephrology PAs. Olsen has contributed to the field of nephrology by being involved in numerous clinical trials and also has contributed to PA education as a member of the Quinnipiac University PA Program faculty.
Born and raised in California, she has always had an interest in science, biology in particular, and took high level courses during her undergrad studies despite her non-science major. She is passionate about the arts but is just as passionate about her career as a physician assistant.
Olsen graduated from Quinnipiac University’s PA Program with a Master of Health Science degree. Prior to that, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance from California State University at Hayward in 1984. She worked as a professional actor, singer, and dancer from 1980 until 1994. Olsen moved to the east coast where she worked as a paramedic assistant/emergency medical technician for the Middlesex Memorial Hospital Emergency Department in Middletown, Connecticut. Upon graduating from PA school, Olsen began working at Nephrology and Hypertension Associates, a position she has held ever since. She was also an adjunct professor for the Quinnipiac University PA program (2000-2020) and is still a mentor for PAs who are interested in working in nephrology. She particularly enjoys working with dialysis patients as she is able to see them frequently and builds strong continuity in their care. The PA/MD team model is put to good use in this environment and her background in performance and communication serves her well in caring for patients with chronic disease and multiple medical problems.
While a PA student, Olsen began a 20+ year span of leadership in the PA profession. She served as the chair of the Student Academy of the AAPA (SAAAPA) Northeast Regional Communications Committee (1997-1998), then president of the SAAAPA (1998-1999), followed by being SAAAPA’s representative to the AAPA Board of Directors (1999-2000). She shifted her attention to serving in the leadership in the American Academy of PAs in Nephrology: first as secretary from 2004 to 2008 and then as vice president from 2009-2010. She also served as the editor for the American Academy of Nephrology PAs newsletter, AANPA News, from 2007 until 2012.
A point of particular pride while serving as SAAAPA President was to promote a sense of community service and giving back which resulted in Student Academies across the nation raising tens of thousands of dollars for charity. Quinnipiac University PA students continue this tradition with an annual fundraiser that has become a favorite of students and faculty alike.
Olsen was honored with the Quinnipiac University Award for Academic Excellence in 1997 and 1998. In 1998, she also received the Quinnipiac University PA Program Leadership Award and the Quinnipiac University PA Program Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000.
Olsen is currently a member of the American Academy of PAs, the Connecticut Academy of PAs, the American Academy of Nephrology PAs, the Renal Physician’s Association, and the American Society of Nephrology.
While a PA student, Olsen served as the chair of the Student Academy of the AAPA (SAAAPA) Northeast Regional Communications Committee (1997-1998), then president of the SAAAPA (1998-1999), followed by being SAAAPA’s representative to the AAPA Board of Directors (1999-2000). During her career as a PA in the field of nephrology, she has served in leadership roles with the American Academy of PAs; first as secretary from 2004 to 2008 and then as vice president from 2009-2010. She also served as the editor for the American Academy of Nephrology PAs newsletter, AANPA News, from 2007 until 2012.
Olsen is married with two children and continues to volunteer in her community in various endeavors, including performing in local theatre and raising money for various charities.
Acknowledgments: This Biography was written by PA History Society Staff with the assistance of Marilyn Olsen. It was submitted to the Society in June 2022. Photographs are courtesy of Ms. Olsen.