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Alumna Returns To CMU To Help Answer Need For Medical Providers

A’lanne Conrad, ‘96

There’s sometimes a gap between what we wanted to be when we grew up and what we actually grew up to be. But in the midst of a successful career as a financial advisor, A’lanne Conrad (formally Leonard) bridged that gap back to healthcare, Grand Junction and Colorado Mesa University.

When the Colorado native arrived at CMU from Colorado Springs, she went all in. “I had never been this far west,” she said. “I count my years at Mesa as some of my happiest. I did a little bit of everything.”

“Everything” included being president of the Activities Council, a resident assistant, homecoming queen, the women’s basketball team manager, a stint playing softball and time as a student-athletic trainer.

 


After graduating in 1996 with a bachelor’s in human performance and wellness, exercise science/athletic training, Conrad accepted a trainee position with the financial firm A.G. Edwards, working first in Grand Junction and later in Denver.

She knew she was helping her clients, some of whom she grew close to, but “I started to think I should find a way to pursue my passion. I started searching for what was next.” Her passion? Medicine. Next? Physician assistant (PA).

In 2016, she graduated from the University of the Sciences – Philadelphia’s Masters in Physician Assistant Studies program, passed her medical board exams and started as a PA for a Grand Junction orthopedics practice.

At the same time, CMU was preparing to launch its own PA master’s program. Conrad served on the program’s external advisory board and as mentor to potential students. In the summer of 2019, she joined the program as an assistant professor.

“There’s a great medical need especially on the West Slope. Some communities don’t have a medical provider at all. Doctors are retiring every day,” she said. “There needs to be a next generation of providers.”
The 15 students who started the 27-month PA program in January 2019 will graduate in May 2021. Interest, like need, is great, Conrad explained. The program received 2,000-plus applications and interviewed 120 prospective students for the 22 spots for 2020.

“There is such a need for this program,” Conrad said, “and that’s part of what makes it so great to be involved.” •

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Written by Deborah Dawes