New directors to lead physician assistant program

FEB. 1 – Trine University has added two experienced medical professionals to lead its emerging Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) program, which is scheduled to begin in January 2017.

Dawn M. LaBarbera, Ph.D., certified physician assistant (PA) has been named director of the new program. The Fort Wayne resident has been a certified PA since 1994 and has taught at the college level since 1995.

Dr. Emilio de Jesus Vazquez, CMD, FAAFP, has been named medical director of the program. The Auburn physician began his medical career more than 40 years ago when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and became a chief corpsman.

“We are pleased to have these two distinguished professionals lead our emerging program,” said Max Baumgartner, P.T., Ph.D., dean of the School of Health Sciences. “They each bring decades of experience that is essential as Trine develops and begins offering this program.”

Trine’s MPAS program is a full-time graduate program that will include academic and clinical skills courses at the new Health Sciences Education Center, 1819 Carew St., Fort Wayne on Parkview’s Randallia campus. Supervised clinical practice experiences will take place at hospitals and clinics in the greater Fort Wayne area. Applications are being accepted for the first class.

Trine, in partnership with Parkview Health, is investing $1.4 million to renovate and construct new facilities to include operating room and emergency room simulation laboratories, exam rooms, classrooms, student resource room, student lounge and study space. The new space will be outfitted with the latest academic technology.

To learn more about Trine’s emerging program, visit

Dawn LaBarberaDawn M. LaBarbera, Ph.D., PA-C, CNMT, RT(N), RDMS

LaBarbera had served as chair and professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne. She joined Saint Francis in 2006 as chair and associate professor and was promoted to professor in 2015. She has also held positions as curriculum coordinator and associate professor at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (formerly Finch University of Health Sciences) in North Chicago; and as clinical assistant professor, clinical preceptor, research coordinator, clinical coordinator, assistant program director, assistant professor and admissions coordinator in the Physician Assistant Department, Finch University.

As a PA, she has served at Lutheran Medical Group in Fort Wayne; with two family practices in Libertyville, Ohio; and at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, North Chicago.

She earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in biology and psychobiology from Ripon College, Ripon, Wis.; a certificate in nuclear medical technology from the School of Nuclear Medicine Technology, Hines Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Hines, Ill.; a Master of Science in physician assistant studies from Finch University, North Chicago; and a doctorate in organization and management from Capella University, Minneapolis.

VazquezEmilio de Jesus Vazquez, MD, CMD, FAAFP

Vazquez comes to Trine from DeKalb Health where he served as chief medical officer/vice president for medical affairs. He was also medical director for the Chest Pain Center at DeKalb Health and for the DeKalb Health Home Health and Hospice. In addition, he has also been serving as the medical director at Laurels of DeKalb in Butler, Miller’s Merry Manor in Garrett and Wesley Health Care and Rehabilitation in Auburn.

He also dedicates time as a volunteer faculty member in the physician assistant program at the University of St. Francis School of Health Sciences and as a part-time faculty member in the Fort Wayne Medical Education Program.

In 2005, Dr. Vazquez retired as commander, Medical Corps U.S. Navy and had held six different commissioned leadership positions with the Navy. He had been a director of emergency medical services; department head of a medical department; director of a family medicine clinic, anesthesia services, laboratory services and clinical services; associate director of a Family Medicine Residency and sector medical liaison in Croatia.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in medical technology from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and an M.D. from University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. He served an internship at Naval Hospital Bremerton in Bremerton, Wash.; a surgical residency at Naval Hospital Portsmouth in Portsmouth, Va.; a family medicine residency and was chief resident at Naval Hospital Charleston in Charleston, S.C.; and was a fellow in advanced women’s health and faculty development while completing a residency at University of Tennessee.

Trine University has applied for Accreditation - Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Trine University anticipates matriculating its first class in January 2017, pending achieving Accreditation - Provisional status at the September 2016 ARC-PA meeting. Accreditation - Provisional is an accreditation status for a new PA program that, at the time of its initial accreditation review, demonstrated its preparedness to initiate a program in accordance with the accreditation Standards. In the event that provisional accreditation is not received, the program will not commence in January 2017 and tuition deposits will be refunded.