June 01, 2009

Dunn-Ryznyk earns Distinguished Fellow honor

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An assistant professor in the Physician Assistant Program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is a member of an elite group.

Laurie Dunn-Ryznyk is now a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Dunn-Ryznyk was one of just 15 Illinoisans who recently earned the designation for 2007-2008 in recognition of her professional and community achievements.

“I am very pleased to have been named a Distinguished Fellow with the American Academy of Physician Assistants,” Dunn-Ryznyk said. “It is an honor to be a part of such a wonderful profession and to also participate in the education of future physician assistants here at SIU.”

A co-founder of the SIUC Physician Assistant Program in 1995, Dunn-Ryznyk has a long association with the University. She is an assistant professor for the program within the College of Applied Sciences and Arts’ School of Allied Health. She was program director from 2004 to 2008, preceded by stints as interim director, assistant director, clinical coordinator and faculty physician assistant with the Family Medicine Residency Program in Carbondale.

She also served as acting associate director of academics for the McMaster University Physician Assistant Program in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, from August until December 2008. Her professional experience also includes working as a physician assistant in Chester, Carbondale and Memphis, Tenn. In addition, she was an instructional assistant in physician assistant education at Saint Louis University, a microbiology laboratory manager and tutor at Richland Community College in Decatur, an instructor and client manager for McLean County Association for Retarded Citizens in Bloomington and director of therapeutic recreation at the McLean County Nursing Home in Normal.

Dunn-Ryznyk earned her master of physician assistant studies degree at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., and her bachelor of medical science and physician assistant certificate at Saint Louis University. She completed a variety of upper-level graduate courses at SIUC in the areas of instructional design, curriculum and instruction, personnel administration and grant writing.

Her undergraduate work included coursework at Richland Community College in Decatur, Illinois State University at Normal, Blackhawk College in East Moline, Augustana College in Rock Island and an associate of arts and sciences degree at Illinois Central College in East Peoria. She’s a licensed and certified physician assistant and a certified Mammacare specialist.

Dunn-Ryznyk has made numerous presentations at professional meetings, secured several grants and been involved in research on various medical topics. Professional journals and other publications have published articles she authored or co-authored. During her tenure at SIUC, Dunn-Ryznyk has served on many departmental, college and university committees and organizations while also actively participating in professional organizations and community service organizations and projects.

She is a founding member of the Southern Illinois Physician Assistant Chapter, co-founder of The Resting Place medical and pastoral missions and music outreach in 2006 and a longtime volunteer helping migrants, the elderly, hurricane victims and others in need.

The Distinguished Fellow award honors Dunn-Ryznyk for her contributions to patient care and the physician assistant profession as well as her dedication to and involvement with the community.

Dunn-Ryznyk’s list of accolades also grew at the American Academy of Physician Assistants annual conference in San Diego in late May. There, her poster entitled “Problem-Based Learning in Physician Assistant Education: A Comparison of Innovative Andragogical Curriculum Models at Southern Illinois University (USA) and McMaster University (CA)” won first place in the curricular innovations category.