Barwick Receives Honorary Duke PA Degree, Delivers USC Commencement Address

Timi Agar Barwick, MPM, gave the commencement address at the University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine PA program on Friday, May 10, then jumped on a plane to Raleigh-Durham to receive an honorary degree from the Duke University PA program.

Barwick joins a select group of people who have received an honorary PA degree from Duke, including founding father Eugene Stead, MD; early PA champion Harvey Estes, MD; sociologist of the profession Eugene Schneller, PhD; and Henry “Buddy” Treadwell, an early PA “informally trained” by physician Amos Johnson, who served as an example of the kind of assistant that Dr. Stead envisioned when developing the PA program at Duke in the 1960s.

The honorary degree is awarded only every four or five years, said Duke Clinical Coordinator Nick Hudak, MPAS, PA-C, who nominated Barwick for the honor and introduced her at the ceremony. Hudak recalled first meeting Barwick at a PAEA meeting and thinking she was a PA because of her knowledge of and dedication to the profession. “And today, our entire faculty agree — we think Timi is a PA, too,” said Hudak at the ceremony. “In appreciation for her significant dedication to health and education and for making an indelible mark on the PA profession — the Duke PA program recognizes Ms. Timi Agar Barwick as an honorary PA.”

PAEA CEO Timi Agar Barwick gave the commencement address at the University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine PA program. Photo: Claire Norman, Keck School of Medicine of USC

Earlier in the week, Barwick spoke to graduating students at the USC PA program, at the invitation of program director Kevin Lohenry, PhD, PA-C. “We were honored to have Timi share her thoughts about the profession after serving for more than 25 years with PAEA,” said Lohenry. “She provided valuable insights into provider burnout, and the class of 2019 was very appreciative of her perspective.” Provider burnout is a serious issue in many health professions, including the PA profession.

In her address, Barwick encouraged the graduating USC students to take care of themselves in order to better serve their patients. “You owe it to your patients to be the best you — their lives and well being depend on your life and well being. So make part of every day about you — the things that give you a lift, raise you up, make you thrive. Consider you!”

“As a PA, what you do will have an impact,” Barwick continued. “You have chosen a profession in which you get to affect the lives of thousands of people — to help them recover from diseases and broken bones, but more than that, to live the healthiest, fullest lives they can. If you bring to your job every day a sense of balance and health, if you can convey to your patients that you are thriving, living a life of wellness — they will notice.”

Barwick retires as PAEA CEO on June 30, 2019. Interim CEO Sara Fletcher will lead the Association until a new permanent CEO is identified through the search process currently underway.