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Values Week 2021: Physician assistant student dedicated to excellent care

During the annual Values Week from Nov. 8-14, Augusta University celebrates its six core values: collegiality, compassion, excellence, inclusivity, integrity and leadership.

Ken Lang is a second-year physician assistant student from Illinois, but has lived in Atlanta for the past 10 years. Augusta University’s PA program appealed to him because of its great value.

After a number of not-so-great experiences in health care as a patient or relative of a patient, Lang became passionate about providing excellent care for those who are dealing with health problems.

Excellence is reflected in distinction, effectiveness, efficiency, enthusiasm, passion and quality, and Lang believes Augusta University’s program embodies those qualities well.

“AU/MCG has a great reputation for quality medical training and is also the most affordable program in the state by a good margin, so an excellent investment,” Lang said.

He tries to incorporate the qualities of excellent care in his day-to-day work with patients.

“Little things can make a world of difference to patients who are hurting, scared and confused. I love being able to meet the needs of others, and especially those who are hurting, so it is important to me to excel not just in medicine but also in listening and communicating with understanding.”

Lang admits working in health care was not on his radar until recently. However, he has always been concerned about those who are suffering and committed to making sure people are noticed.

“I remember wanting to see that the new kids at school were welcomed, or that everyone was included in group activities,” he said.

“As an adult, I ended up working in student ministry for a number of years and was able to practice listening and meeting people where they are. So I have long been interested in meeting the needs of others. Now I am just more able to minister to physical ailments, too.”

Lang received encouragement and the drive for excellence from his parents, who have always been supportive of him. He mentioned that the older he got, the more he respected how they have let him pursue his path without always trying to jump in and give their two cents.

“They trusted me to make good decisions and that gave me confidence … Since meeting my wife, she has become my biggest cheerleader and is very much the one who encouraged me to chase after a more fulfilling future when she saw me merely persevering in my old job,” Lang said. “She helps me see what I am capable of and reminds me of my strengths.”

Lang said he has a deep respect for the College of Allied Health Sciences faculty as well as the tradition of the school, which he believes has a history of sending quality clinicians to serve communities in Georgia and beyond.

“I am proud to be part of that tradition and it compels me toward excellence,” Lang said.

He has spent time in Athens and Atlanta for his residencies and said he enjoyed those experiences seeing patients and beginning to practice the skills he’s learned.

“I think being with preceptors day in and day out has served to increase my confidence that I can be a good health care provider, while at the same time, humbled me that there is so much left to learn. I look forward to the challenge of balancing those two things.”

He said one of the biggest obstacles he had to overcome was being a parent in a “safe” job, and the risk of trying something new as he and his wife figured out how to make ends meet with him in school.

“I am thankful that my wife is amazing and works really hard to allow me to go through school in another city,” Lang said. “We both have the end goal in mind and know that we are also showing our sons how we work diligently and work together to pursue what is best for our family.”

Lang hopes to continue to carry on the excellence he’s learned from the College of Allied Health Sciences while adding to it down the road.

“I definitely want to help grow the future of the PA profession, especially through exposing underrepresented groups to the possibility of a future in health care as a PA,” he said.

“We need quality providers in underserved communities but also providers who reflect the experiences and patients of those communities. I want to help kids see themselves as part of that future.”

He knows there are great opportunities to serve in free clinics in underserved communities in and around Atlanta, and is looking forward to inspiring others to consider serving in health care.

“I want to pursue mentoring the next generation of PAs, providing shadowing opportunities and recommendations for those who show the drive to pursue such a valuable profession. And I would love to point them to AU.”

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Written by
Miguelangelo Hernandez

Miguelangelo Hernandez is a senior communications and media coordinator at Augusta University. He covers College of Allied Health Sciences, College of Nursing, The Dental College of Georgia, College of Science and Mathematics and Augusta University Athletics. You can reach him at mighernandez@augusta.edu or (706) 993-6411.

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Written by Miguelangelo Hernandez

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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