RIP- J. Jeffrey Heinrich

Submitted by John McElligott

Jeff Heinrich was a Navy Corpsman with the 1st Marine Division and was wounded in a battle near the DMZ and Medivaced back to the US due to severe head wounds. I just missed him by a few months but we became fellow Duke University Medical PA program classmates. He was my mentor and later he worked with me and helped my career in many ways. See the Duke Days for his story. It is amazing. I spoke to his wife the day he died and what she told me was how he passed. “Just fell asleep”, Now read about Jeff and you will see why he passed away the way he did. I know where to find him some day.

J. Jeffrey Heinrich, Ed.D, PA-C Emeritus, Courtesy of Physician Assistant History Society

AAPA’s first student president and founder of the official AAPA Student Academy, J. Jeffrey Heinrich, Ed.D, PA-C Emeritus, died on May 10 in Guilford, Connecticut. Heinrich was also co-founder of the Society for the Preservation of Physician Assistant History, which became the PA History Society, with Dr. Reginald D. Carter, PhD, PA. He was appointed and then elected as the first president of the Society.

According to his PA History Society biography, Heinrich was born in 1945 and served in Vietnam as a hospital corpsman with the U.S. Marines. Following his military service, he received his undergraduate degree from Castleton State College in Vermont. After teaching for a year, he enrolled in the Duke University PA Program in 1971. He was elected to represent PA students on AAPA’s Board of Directors and asked to develop a student academy. In this role, he was recognized as the first student president and the official AAPA Student Academy was developed a few years later.

Heinrich in 1975 as the first student academy president, Courtesy of Physician Assistant History Society

Following graduation from Duke, Heinrich served as a clinical PA at Yale University School of Medicine and co-directed its surgical residency program. He obtained a master’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University and a doctoral degree from Nova University in adult education. In 1998, he became the program director of the George Washington University PA Program, in the Department of Health Sciences, in Washington, D.C. He remained in this position as a full professor until 2007 when he returned home to Guilford.

After serving as AAPA student president, Heinrich continued to be actively involved in local, state, and national PA organizations. He served as treasurer and as a board member for AAPA, and as president of the Connecticut Academy of PAs and the District of Columbia Academy of PAs. In addition, he served as president of the PA Foundation and the Connecticut PA Foundation. Heinrich co-authored more than 50 publications in clinical and academic journals, and served as the associate editor of JAAPA. Heinrich was honored for his many clinical, academic, and volunteer achievements by countless organizations over the course of his career.

The Rocket Lounge

Written by John McElligott

The Rocket Lounge was just down the street from Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita-Falls Texas. Now what was I doing there and why? 
Well I was a student  at Duke University School of Medicine in the Physician Associate Program. I was just elected to run for National Student President of the AAPA (America Academy of PA’s) and Sheppard was were the national meeting was hosted. 

Jeff Heinrich was the current president and he was a class ahead of me at Duke. He was also just being medivac from Vietnam as I was arriving at the party just south of where Jeff was serving with the famous 9th Marines in the DMZ and Dong Ha area. Jeff was wounded by a grenade that exploded in his area during a fire fight. He carried a huge scar on his forehead for the rest of his life along with his Purple Heart Pin. He wore this pin every time he put on a suit and was moved to the head of many lines at bars and restaurants  because of his heroism as a Navy Corpsman with the Marines and his PH pin. 

Click to read more

Duke Days (AKA The Best Days of My Life)

Written by John McElligott

YEAR # 1. My Duke days will begin much like Charlie Clark, aka CNC , Charlie in Charge, at Paul Toth’s office in August of 1971. I was recruited for a  surgical position along with Dick Bucky, Pat Riley both of who had military or surgical experience. Following my meeting with Paul Toth PA I went out to find a place to live. It seems that we were all directed to the same apartment complex “Colonial Apartment Complex”. Later I found out there were many PA students and Former military applicants who lived there. CNC Jeff Heinrich, Mike Mc Dougal, Bill Smith and a few other that I cannot remember. I was placed in the Department of Surgery supervising the Department of Plastic Surgery technicians who did everything from working the Burn Unit to passing instruments during surgery. We had a 3 room suite just a across the hall from Knott Ward where CNC was placed as a medical assistant. Bucky, Pat and I worked  for famous plastic surgeons like Kenneth Pickerel and Nicholas Georgade. These two had a new facility appointee named Tommy Thompson who was our boss but Bucky was the oldest and made the schedule and made sure the cases were covered. This was fun and I had been to OR school as a Navy Corpsman before being transferred to the Marine Corps. Bucky lasted a few months and left due to personal issues and I was put in charge. When Bucky left, CNC was brought over from Knott Ward and became a scrub tech and assisted in the Burn Unit. We had 2 chief residents one at the VA Hospital and one at Duke Hospital. Under them were residents 1-3 year and interns from the General Surgery program. It was a blast and we were skinning corps at night and banking the skin for burn patients. Contest ever time we did a skinning to see who could go from the feet to the neck with out breaking a hole in the skin. This routine lasted until we started the PA program the following August of 1972. 

click to read more