In June 2014, Ann Schultz, MPAS, RRT, PA-C, was hired by Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Allied Health Professions as an assistant professor in the Physician Assistant (PA) Education program.

Two months later, the U.S. Army Reserve Captain was sent to Fort Bliss, Texas to assist soldiers preparing for and returning from deployment around the world.

Schultz is about halfway through her yearlong deployment. She made a surprise return to WesternU Friday, Feb. 13, 2015 to honor University administrators who have supported her during her absence.

“Coming into a new job, knowing that this would possibly be happening, and still having them open their arms and hire me was a huge deal for me,” Schultz said. “I didn’t want to go without having the opportunity to acknowledge them and their support.”

Schultz also thanked the PA students in attendance, since her absence has also affected them. She told them that the federal government has tightened its budget, reducing the number of active duty service members.

“…Which makes it more important for people like me, and people eventually like you, who have the skill set to do this kind of work,” Schultz said. “I just completed five months, and our 16 providers have processed over 20,000 service members that are going to Iraq, Afghanistan and West Africa and coming back from those areas. We’re taking care of their quarantine, taking care of their vaccinations. Taking care of any injuries they had before and that they come back with. All because this comes together here and helps to make it happen.”

Schultz contacted Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office that promotes cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers.

Farrell J. Chiles, representing ESGR, presented Department of Physician Assistant Education Chair Roy Guizado, MS, PA-C, the Patriot Award, given to a supervisor who supports Citizen Warriors through a wide range of measures, including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed.

“I feel that Ann is doing such a great service for our country and our institution,” Guizado said. “It was nice to know that people care about this type of commitment that we make.”

College of Allied Health Professions Dean Stephanie Bowlin, EdD, PA, received the Seven Seals Award in recognition of significant achievement, initiative or support that promotes and supports the ESGR mission.

“I’m proud we hired Ann as part of our faculty and our family. And I really appreciate Roy pulling this whole process together,” Bowlin said. “We’re proud Americans. Ann is a physician assistant. Roy and I are PAs. She is the first that we ever had who was called to duty during her faculty service. So Roy and I had to figure out the process of how to support her as well as support the whole military.”

“Once we found out what the process was, the university was supportive as well,” Guizado said. “It’s nice to see. It was a good process.”

The Above and Beyond Award was accepted on behalf of WesternU President Philip Pumerantz by WesternU Provost and Chief Operating Officer Gary Gugelchuk, PhD. The award recognizes employers who have gone above and beyond the legal requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act by providing their Guard and Reserve employees with additional, non-mandated benefits.

Schultz has practiced clinical medicine for 36 years and has taught for eight years. She joined the Army Reserve in 2009, after an Army health care recruiter visited her class and talked to her students about joining the military to help soldiers get the care they deserve.

“The university was willing to take a chance on hiring me,” Schultz said. “They’ve been 100 percent supportive since I’ve been gone. Students are sacrificing. Faculty are filling in on my courses. I’ve been very pleased and happy with WesternU.”