In Memoriam: J. Jeffrey Heinrich, EdD, PA-C

Jeffrey Heinrich, a PA and PA educator with a long history of service to the profession, passed away on May 10. Dr. Heinrich was director of The George Washington University PA program for nearly 10 years, from 1998–2007. He was a co-founder of the Society for the Preservation of Physician Assistant History, later the PA History Society, and served as its first president.

“We are saddened by the loss of a pioneer and great servant to our profession, and extend our condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues,” said PAEA President Howard Straker, who knew Heinrich well as a student and colleague. “Jeff was a relatively quiet man, who let his actions do his speaking, but he was a great teacher and mentor. I learned from him first as a student at Yale and then when I came to GW as a faculty member. He was a strong influence on generations of students and faculty.”

Dr. Heinrich held numerous positions in the PA profession, beginning very early in his career, when in 1972 he became the first president of the organization of PA students that eventually became the Student Academy of the AAPA. Heinrich later served as treasurer on the AAPA Board of Directors, as president of the PA Foundation, and as president of both the Connecticut and District of Columbia PA academies. He was associate editor of the Physician Assistant journal for some years and co-authored more than 50 publications in clinical and academic journals.

After graduating from the Duke PA program in 1973, Dr. Heinrich began work at the Yale University School of Medicine in the surgical emergency room and on the burn service. He worked in burn medicine for much of his career and became one of the first PAs to join the American Burn Association and to serve on its Board of Trustees. It was at Yale that he began his career as an educator, as a preceptor and evaluator of PA students’ clinical skills. He was also co-director of the Yale University Division of the Norwalk Hospital/Yale University School of Medicine PA Surgical Residency Program for more than 20 years.

Dr. Heinrich followed the military pathway into the PA profession that was common in the profession’s early days. He served in the Vietnam War as a hospital corpsman and received a number of medals, including a Purple Heart.

He was the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions over his career, including the AAPA Distinguished Service Award, the President’s Award from the Connecticut Academy of Physician Assistants, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Duke University PA program (1992), the Civilian PA of the Year Award from the AAPA Veterans Caucus, and AAPA’s National Outstanding PA of the Year.

A full biography of Dr. Heinrich can be found on the PAHx website. The society is also asking for memories of him to be shared on Facebook or by email for forwarding to the Heinrich family.