North Carolina PAs dedicated to patient health while leading the way for the profession.
Katharine Kovacs was born and raised in Connecticut, moving to Pennsylvania during her senior year in high school. She planned to attend college at the University of Connecticut but her parents encouraged her to explore schools in Pennsylvania as well. While touring Gannon University in Erie, PA, Katharine discovered a new profession, a “physician’s assistant” (still holding onto the possessive apostrophe then). At that time, there were only 55 programs in the United States offering PA studies and Gannon was one of four still offering completion in four years. Katharine chose to attend Gannon and earned a BS, completing PA school as a member of the second class of graduates in 1980.
Leadership in the PA profession came early for Katharine. She was a clinical coordinator at her alma mater and was asked to serve on the AAPA House of Delegates (HOD). She experienced great comradery and realized she could make a difference. This realization is reflected in Katharine’s belief that “part of her professional role as a PA is to support her state organization.” She has practiced in four different states as a PA and has been a member of her state academy in every one.
Katharine joined NCAPA upon moving to Raleigh 27 years ago and has been a member ever since. She has provided her expertise and guidance at the Annual NCAPA Student Leadership Retreat for many years and has been inspired by her PA colleagues while serving on the Professional Development Review Panel. Katharine believes that NCAPA has been the leader in PA practice in NC throughout her career and hopes that Optimal Team Practice (OTP) will soon become a reality. She feels that it may be time to “change the Medical Practice Act to reflect the advances in PA education, knowledge, and independence to mirror the way PAs practice now compared to 30 years ago.”
Katharine has had 30 years of clinical practice, including surgery, internal medicine/ID/oncology, physical medicine and rehab, and 11 years in neurology, providing a variety of care in a variety of settings. For the last ten years, Katharine worked for the North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB), serving as the first PA staff member. She worked to protect the people of North Carolina from poor providers, of which she found there are actually very few, realizing that most of the complaints and investigations were rarely worthy of action against PAs or physicians. One of the highlights of her work with the NCMB was her annual visits to NC PA programs to offer insights into applying for a license to practice as a PA and how to “keep it clean.” Katharine will be missed during future NCMB visits to PA programs, as she has recently retired. She shares with all of us:
Just my humble thanks to all the PAs I have had the pleasure of working with and knowing through great organizations such as NCAPA, and our honorary PA, Emily Adams, who, along with her coworkers, represent us so well. Younger folks are our future and it is bright!
Katharine, who we all know and love as Kitty, will be missed by all of us at NCAPA. We thank her for her many years of leadership and dedication to the PA profession and wish her only the best in future endeavors.