GAPA Announces 2010 Award Winners, Recognizing Service in PA Community

The GAPA awards were presented at the organization’s 35th Annual Summer CME Conference and Exhibition on Tuesday, July 20, in Sandestin, Florida.

Online PR News – 20-July-2010 – – (Atlanta, GA) - The Georgia Association of Physician Assistants has announced the recipients of the 2010 GAPA awards, recognizing the leaders and rising stars of the Association. The awards were presented at the organization’s 35th Annual Summer CME Conference and Exhibition on Tuesday, July 20, in Sandestin, Florida.

“We are only as strong as our membership and their involvement within our organization,” said Mary Vacala, ATC, PA-C, MSPAS, DFAAPA. Vacala was installed as GAPA 2010-11 president at the conference. “These award winners have demonstrated the highest degree of involvement as well as professionalism and dedication to GAPA and the entire PA profession. I congratulate them on their hard work, and am proud of their efforts.”

Physician Assistant of the Year – Ben Taylor, PA-C, PhD.
The recipient of the Physician Assistant of the Year award must display proven leadership throughout the year, as well as be a mentor to others throughout the state. Taylor graduated from the University of Oklahoma Physician Associate Program via the United States Army Program. He is the current public education chair and is a past president of the association. In addition to his service to GAPA, Taylor works in multiple emergency departments in the Georgia/South Carolina area and currently serves as a director-at-large for the Association of Family Practice Physician Assistants. He resides in Augusta, GA.

“My greatest accomplishment as a PA is seeing the students that I have taught grow into this field to become competent healthcare professionals,” Taylor said. “I thank my wife, Lee, the members of GAPA who have become my extended family and Dillehay Management Group (GAPA’s professional management firm) for all of their support, friendship and loyalty.”

Distinguished Service Award – Susan Bose Stempek, MMSc, PA-C
The Distinguished Service Award is given to the GAPA member who has given much time and effort in furthering GAPA’s endeavors. Stempeck, a graduate of the Emory University School of Medicine’s Physician Assistant program, has served on the medical staff at the Georgia Lung Associates in Marietta since 2005. She enjoys mentoring PA students as well as lecturing for both the Emory and Mercer PA programs. She is also GAPA’s publications chair, and co-editor of the GAPA Pulse, the organization’s award-winning quarterly newsletter.

“I consider my greatest accomplishment the ability to maintain a healthy balance of my personal and professional life despite a deep dedication to my career and professional activities,” Stempeck said. She and husband Michael are looking forward to the birth of their first child in December. Stempeck resides in the Atlanta area.

Humanitarian of the Year – Jeff Chambers, PA-C, ATC
The recipient of the Humanitarian of the Year award is a PA that has shown an outstanding commitment to human rights. The award is based on work done outside of the PA’s primary employment. Chambers, a 2000 graduate of the Emory University School of Medicine’s Physician Assistant program, has worked in orthopedic surgery in Atlanta and Athens, as well as in emergency medicine in Atlanta and Gainesville.

“During Jeff's 12 years of involvement with GAPA he has served the Association in numerous leadership positions,” said Lori Gaylor, PA-C, MPAS, DFAAPA. Gaylor is the immediate past president of the Association.

Chamber’s service to GAPA includes student representative, regional contact liaison, Georgia Medical Board liaison, student challenge bowl chair, professional liaison committee member, conference planning committee member, Board-member-at-large and president. He is a resident of Bishop, with his wife, Jennifer, and their three active boys, Tommy, Drew and Jack.

Physician/PA Partnership Award – Lyle Myers, PA-C / David Palmer, MD
The award is given to a team that has displayed evidence of collaboration and a unique relationship of trust, collegiality and mutual respect. Palmer and Myers have worked together for ten years at the Southeastern Orthopedic Center in Savannah. Myers serves as surgical first assist and performs both hospital and outpatient visits. Palmer provides care for a wide range of orthopedic problems but specializes in the treatment of knee and shoulder injuries. Both serve on the medical teams for four local area high schools.

Myers is the current LGA/reimbursement chair for GAPA and is a past chair of the Student Affairs committee. He and his wife reside in Savannah.

“I would like to thank Mary Vacala for her encouragement and friendship – without her belief in me, I would not be a PA today,” Myers said. “I would also like to thank Lori Gaylor for reminding all PAs to make a difference every day.”

A native of Tallahassee, FL, Palmer received his B.S. from Florida State University where he played fullback and linebacker for the legendary Bobby Bowden. He completed medical school at the University of Florida, followed by residency at University of Missouri at Kansas City. He enjoys many outdoor activities, and is an avid deer and turkey hunter.

“Dr. Palmer is widely known as an excellent teacher and precepts PA and medical students from South University and the Medical College of GA,” Myers added.

Physician of the Year – John Northup, MD
The Physician of the Year is looked at as a mentor and teacher, and has also facilitated the practice of PAs throughout the state. Northup practices gastroenterology and internal medicine at the Savannah Diagnostic Associates, P.C., in Savannah.

Having served as the Medical Director of the South University Physician Assistant Program for many years, Northrup is an active ambassador of PAs at the state and national level and has been instrumental in the development of many educational programs, books and seminars for PAs.

"Dr. Northup has been a long time advocate of PAs,” said Vacala. “He has worked for PA practice privileges at the hospitals in his community for years. He is truly deserving of this award."

Circle of Honor – Jim Gordon, PA-C, MPAS
The Circle of Honor is a distinguished award given to someone with a proven record of involvement and achievement with GAPA. The recipient is considered a pioneer in the GAPA organization by improving service to the public, serving as a role model and mentor to PA students and representing GAPA in a positive manner. Gordon has held a number of positions within the organization over the years. He is currently a member of the Board-at-large and has served as conference planning chair for more than a decade. He practices in the Atlanta area and enjoys retreating to his mountain home in North Georgia.

“Through his unwavering dedication to both GAPA and the PA profession as a whole, Jim exemplifies all of the ideals of the PA profession,” Gaylor remarked.

The Georgia Association of Physician Assistants is celebrating its 35th year of excellence in promoting the high quality, cost-effective, accessible health care that the state’s physician assistants provide as part of a physician-directed PA/physician teams. To learn how PAs make health care more affordable and accessible in Georgia, please visit and click on Patients.

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