UNC faculty member Janelle Bludorn has a full plate of responsibilities and interests that would make anyone’s jaw drop, and her accomplishments, including being named North Carolina’s 2018 Physician Assistant of the Year, have reflected just that.
Bludorn, a physician assistant and UNC clinical professor in the Allied Health Sciences and Emergency Medicine departments, works mostly in the Physician Assistant program, teaching classes like learning to analyze a patient’s medical history and treat them properly.
“I love that class because it’s very hands-on,” Bludorn said. “And it’s so much fun to see students go from having no clinical skills whatsoever to being very, very good at doing a history and a physical examination.”
She teaches classes on point-of-care ultrasounds, fundamental surgeries, women’s health and musculoskeletal medicine, mostly to PA students. She also visits classes for both medical and undergraduate students to speak.
This year marks almost three years at UNC for Bludorn, but alongside working at the school, she has been practicing clinically in emergency care for nearly a decade. She used to work full-time in emergency care, but now most of her time is spent teaching, and she works most Wednesdays at the UNC-Chapel Hill and Hillsborough Emergency Departments.
Though the transition to teaching has been a challenging one, Bludorn said she is pleased with her decision to spend more time in education. She appreciates how she is able to help patients, even if she’s not directly treating them.
“As a medical educator, I’ve realized that when I go to work everyday, I’m not only making a difference in the lives of the students that are sitting in that class right now but hopefully making a difference in all of the lives of the patients they touch or heal or treat over the course of their careers,” Bludorn said. “And for me, just being part of that, it’s just so rewarding.”
Brenda Mitchell, the associate chairperson of Allied Health Sciences at UNC, has worked closely with Bludorn on several projects, and she can speak to Bludorn’s hardworking nature.
“She is very energetic,” Mitchell said. “She gets very involved in the things that she’s a part of, so she doesn’t take her work lightly. She has a very strong work ethic, and she’s just a joy to work with. I’ve enjoyed her insight regarding issues that we’re discussing, and she’s not shy at all, so she is very outspoken but tactful with it.
Bludorn was presented with the PA of the year award at a North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants’ conference in August 2018, but when she was first emailed that she won, she didn’t quite believe she had been picked.
“I emailed them back, and I’m like, ‘Um, surely you’ve sent this to the wrong person, because I’ve only lived in North Carolina for two years, and I don’t think that I’ve done quite enough for this honor yet,’” Bludorn said.
But they assured her it was no mistake. She received the award for her skill “in point-of-care ultrasound,” how she shares “her vast knowledge on the subject by educating students and providers,” and her “strong online presence, sharing knowledge on PAs, PA education, and the PA profession through podcasts and social media,” according to the NCAPA website.
On top of her clinical and educational work, Bludorn also serves on the Board of Directors for the Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants, is part of the Membership and Marketing committee for the NCAPA, is a member of FemInEM — or Females Working in Emergency Medicine — gives talks on a national level to other health care professionals and hosts the podcast “Airwaves and Educators” with three other PAs.
Bludorn said her favorite part of the job is passing on knowledge to the next generation of health care and medicine, and she advises those who are part of these fields to keep an open mind and believe in their own abilities.
“One of my own mentors, Kris Maday, who is a PA program director at (the University of Tennessee College of Medicine), he says that after you achieve things in your life, you should try to send that elevator back down and help other people get to the level where you’re at,” Bludorn said. “I feel like I’m at that part of my career where I should be starting to do that.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.