Melissa Ricker, DMSc, PA-C, grew up in eastern North Carolina and came from a large family of medical professionals, including her mother who was a Family Nurse Practitioner at a non-profit serving at risk children and adolescents. Melissa attended North Carolina State University, where she received a Bachelors of Science in Biology and graduated in 2010. Inspired by her mother’s passion, work-life balance, and ability to make a difference, Melissa began researching professional options and decided to become a PA. She enrolled in East Carolina University’s PA program and graduated in 2013.
As a new PA, Melissa began to realize that “the value of being a PA in North Carolina depended on the engagement, advocacy, connectivity, and leadership at the state level.” She began learning more about NCAPA and “met other PAs within the NCAPA who truly care about the PA profession” and was motivated to join. Melissa believes that NCAPA offers leadership and resources around “contemporary topics like optimal team practice, diversity equity and inclusion, and student empowerment, to regional chapters, to the state conference, virtual CME, endowments; there is something to offer literally, every PA.” We asked Melissa why she thinks it’s important to maintain membership in NCAPA:
The trajectory of our practice is most heavily influenced by those willing to move it. From strengthening our collaboration with other members on the healthcare team, to resilience, to a reinforced dedication to training our PA students, and beyond; it takes a village! No one is an expert in every topic, so by establishing the champions and passionate volunteers from across the state who are willing to share this lift, positive change will occur. And then for those not ready to (become actively) involved, being “just a member” is ok too! Passive absorption of CME, your vote on state issues, and general resources of the PA are also great benefits.
Shortly after becoming a PA, Melissa was elected to the 2012-2013 board of directors of the Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. In this role, she presented information on AAPA to attendees at the 2014 Annual NCAPA Student Leadership Retreat. Since that time, Melissa has become more involved with NCAPA and recently served on the Strategic Planning Committee and currently serves on the NCAPA Board of Directors. She shares that “having great mentors within the PA Profession has not only inspired me to get involved but has shown me how to get involved. Through this, I have built incredible working relationships with PAs all over the state, interested in so many different things, who collectively have added so much value to the day-to-day work I do as a PA.”
Melissa currently lives in Charlotte, NC, and works as the PA Fellowship Director for the Atrium Health Center for Advanced Practice. Melissa was recently the APP recipient of Atrium’s Teal Acorn – Preceptor Award. “The Physician/APP Academician-Preceptor Award honors and recognizes Atrium Health physicians/APPs who demonstrate outstanding contributions to (Atrium’s) roots as a learning organization: growing talent and driving clinical advances through education, research and leadership.” Atrium shared the article they created about Melissa and her role as a mentor, which you can read here.
Melissa loves “Everything. Literally, everything!” with regards to being a PA and shares that love with her sister, Sarah Ricker King, who is South Carolina’s first Neonatal ICU PA. The family tradition of practicing medicine carries on!