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Student Q&A: Trevor Hedberg, Physician Assistant Program

Trevor Hedberg

Trevor Hedberg, MPH, a first-year student in the Physician Assistant Program, credits the program’s problem-based learning approach with effectively preparing him for his next chapter, while giving him a new group of friends: his fellow students.

Where is your hometown?

I grew up in Melbourne, Florida, and lived in New York City for the past five years before moving to Chicago for school.

What are your research interests?

Much of my educational and professional background is focused on infectious diseases. Prior to starting Northwestern’s PA Program, I completed a two-year Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fellowship during which I worked as an epidemiologist at a local health department in Florida. From this experience, I was able to acquire a better understanding of how infectious organisms, such as tuberculosis and hepatitis C, affect various populations differently. I was able to witness first-hand how social determinants —such as access to medical care — play a direct role in individuals’ health and wellbeing.

After completion of my fellowship, I received my Master of Public Health in Infection Control at the University of South Florida. I completed my thesis on the evaluation of HIV Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) programs in community health settings. I then worked as a city research scientist with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where I was responsible for the implementation and coordination of an HIV PrEP patient navigation program across the city’s Sexual Health Clinics.

All of these experiences fueled my passion for public health and led me to apply to PA school. As a future clinician, I hope to incorporate research into my career while providing compassionate care to the patients I serve.

What exciting projects are you working on? 

In my former role as a city research scientist, I had a remarkable opportunity to be on a team to design and implement two training curricula for health department staff to promote Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Queer (LGBQ), and Transgender and Gender Non-conforming (TGNC) cultural competency. Both trainings aimed to enhance the skill set of medical providers and allied health staff who provide services to LGBQ and TGNC patients in the city’s Sexual Health Clinics. In the future, I would like to implement LGBQ and TGNC trainings in other healthcare settings during my PA career and help educate other medical providers to better serve these populations.

During my time at Feinberg, I have been participating in a Sustained Dialogue interprofessional work group that brings students from multiple Feinberg programs together. The purpose of the group is to have students from diverse backgrounds engage in active listening and discussion to address challenging topics that affect our roles as students and future healthcare professionals. One of the topics the group focused on for much of the past several months was determining best strategies on how to bolster collaboration among students from all Feinberg programs.

Over the next few months we hope to use data from surveys that we created and sent to students to inform our decisions and promote inter-professionalism efforts.

What attracted you to your program?

Based on my previous academic and professional experiences, I knew that I enjoyed collaborating with others and working as part of a team to develop and work towards achieving goals. Therefore, the problem-based learning (PBL) format of the curriculum attracted me the Northwestern PA Program. During the interview day, I had the opportunity to participate in a mock PBL classroom session with a faculty member and acquired a glimpse of how PBL brings students together to work as team to effectively approach and manage the care of patients using real-life scenarios. Also, it was apparent that the program’s professors were dedicated to student education and provided ample guidance. As a result, I knew right then and there that the PBL learning style was the right fit for me.

What has been your best experience at Feinberg?

By far my best experience at Feinberg has been meeting my current peers. Since the first day of class, my thirty-five colleagues and I began developing strong relationships that have enhanced my learning. I particularly enjoy working with them in PBL groups and using our various healthcare backgrounds and experiences to work through patient case scenarios.

Outside of the classroom, we often spend time hanging out and exploring the awesome neighborhoods that Chicago has to offer. Before school, I never expected to have such an incredible opportunity to make a new group of friends.

How would you describe the faculty at Feinberg?

The faculty in the PA Program go above and beyond to ensure that my peers and I receive the best education possible. Each member is unbelievably intelligent and passionate about medicine and the PA profession and inspire me to work harder. They provide us with unlimited resources and any tool necessary to prepare us to become future PAs who provide the highest quality of care.

I would like to give a special shout out to my advisor, Kristine Healy, MPH, PA-C, who often goes out of her way to check in and provide me with networking opportunities with other healthcare professionals. The dedication of the faculty here continuously reminds me of why the Northwestern PA Program was and is my top-choice for education.

What do you do in your free time?

I am an avid reader so in my free time you can usually find me with my head buried in a science fiction novel. I also love to run in Lincoln Park and along Lake Michigan. Prior to starting PA school, I was learning how to knit which I really enjoy. In addition, I try to use every opportunity that I have to travel to New York and Florida to visit friends and family.

What are your plans for after graduation?

My experiences in the didactic year of the program have sparked interests in other areas of medicine, such as nephrology, that I look forward to learning more about in my clinical year. As of right now, I plan to pursue a career in LGBTQ primary care after graduation. Eventually, I would like to work in infectious disease once more, but I am open to exploring other areas of medicine.