Misawa physician assistant named 2013 federal PA of the Year

Lt. Col. Melanie Ellis examines a patient Mar. 14, 2014, at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Ellis, the 35th Medical Operations Squadron commander, has been recognized for her mentorship, experience and accomplishments in her 21-year career as a physician assistant.


By AUDREA HUFF | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 22, 2014

A Misawa, Japan, airman whose 21-year career includes helping victims of the 1994 Fairchild Air Force Base shooting and 2012 Benghazi, Libya, Embassy attack was recently named the 2013 federal service PA of the Year by the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the Air Force said.

Lt. Col. Melanie Ellis, the 35th Medical Operations Squadron commander at Misawa, credited her Air Force mentors, hard work, desire to travel and family for the award, which recognizes physician assistants for exempary service in the federal sector.

On June 20, 1994, a young Ellis had just seen a patient in her exam room at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., when she heard a burst of gunshots, then screams, in the clinic. Four people were killed and 22 wounded before security forces shot and killed the gunman. In just her first year as a PA, Ellis was pivotal in rendering aid to victims and helping evacuate patients to a nearby trauma center, the Air Force said.

Her career has taken her to Botswana, Afghanistan, Belgium and numerous other countries. She helped evacuate casualties at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, according to an Air Force release.

"She hit the ground running at Misawa and advanced the Air Force surgeon general's vision of tailoring medical care to the unique mission requirements of our population, working to preserve and enhance the performance of our warrior Airmen," said Col. Alden Hilton, the 35th Medical Group commander.

"I have never seen anyone with the same depth of experience evidencing her brilliance, tenacity and dedication in all my years of supervising physician assistants," he said.

Twitter: @audreahuff


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