2014 Caucus Awardees

Outstanding Uniformed PA of the Year

The Veterans Caucus
of the
American Academy of Physician Assistants


Maj Brandi Ritter has dedicated her last 23 years of service to saving lives on the battlefield. She was instrumental in updating the US military service individual first aid kits (IFAKs) to include the Combat Action Tourniquet. When rumors surfaced of counterfeit tourniquets entering the DoD supply chain, she formed a working group to tackle the issue. The “Counterfeit Surveillance Group”, led by the Defense Medical Materiel Program Office also included representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, DoD Inspector General, the Army Central Investigations Division, the Commerce Department, the Federal Drug Administration, Defense Logistics Agency troop support and Foreign Military Sales. She was subsequently called in to evaluate over 86,000 tourniquets turned into the DoD IG to ensure there were no counterfeit tourniquets in the shipment. Her group then worked with tourniquet manufacturers to ensure their processes were secure from industrial espionage, and when there were manufacturing changes to the products being produced for DoD, she was immediately notified. Finally, she led the team that partnered with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner’s Office to evaluate all medical devices and equipment used in attempted resuscitation of American combat casualties. The team’s evaluation of tourniquets, airway devices, medical kits and intraosseous devices led to significant advancements in these technologies and directly enhanced the capabilities of the ground medic. These efforts ensured that in 2012, not one counterfeit tourniquet was found at the Dover Port Mortuary!

As a young Captain, Brandi Ritter recognized the Air Force-wide impact of changes to AFI 10-248 on CPR training requirements and addressed these issues with AF leadership. As a result, she was selected to be on the USAF Basic Life Support National Faculty. Her contributions in this arena would continue for over six years – in a billet that is limited to two 2-year terms. Major Ritter has deployed many times during her career. She has personally experienced the frustration of having medical devices work improperly, negatively impacting patient care. She capitalized on these experiences, choosing to broaden her career as a test director for medical equipment when she was assigned to the Air Force Medical Support Evaluation Activity at Fort Detrick, MD. Her contributions in this role include ensuring casualties returning from Landstuhl Germany have adequate pain control through the use of a new patient controlled analgesic pump that was approved for flight.

Her experience in the test and evaluation field was enhanced when she was selected for the Research and Acquisition Fellowship in 2009.

Major Ritter began making a name for herself early in her military career. Even as a young airmen she always volunteered for extra duties that would add to the advancement of military medicine. Her dedication and work ethic got her recommended to PA school. Major Ritter met the challenges of PA school head on and has continued to shine during her career.

Much later in her career, Maj Ritter was assigned to the forward surgical team (FST) at Tarin Kout Afghanistan in 2008. While there, she was responsible for caring for the American casualties who gave their lives for freedom. This location was rocketed almost daily by the Taliban, requiring high alert status and effective contingency plans for casualties. She worked with the Army special forces medics assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force mission, training them on disease processes and emergency medical treatment. She was the only provider to perform confinement physicals on the Taliban prisoners captured at this location. One evening she performed seven confinement physicals and suffered a mild concussion when the clinic was rocketed some 15 feet away. Thankfully, there were only minor injuries to the prisoners and interpreters, but all seven examinations were repeated--to document the new injuries prior to confinement—while recovering from her own injuries. Major Ritter does her job extremely well and never looks for recognition.

She is constantly seen mentoring young airmen and PA's in all fields of military medicine. When it comes to research, Major Ritter IS the go to person to brief Senior DoD Leadership on her research results allowing them to determine the best way to move military medicine into the future.

Major Ritter is very deserving of this award. It is about time someone recognizes Major Ritter for all of her accomplishments. Presented at the 42st Annual Physician Assistant Conference Memorial Day, May 26, 2014, Boston, MA

Outstanding Civilian PA of the Year

The Veterans Caucus
of the
American Academy of Physician Assistants

Dixie Patterson, PA-C

Patterson receives a plaque from Michael R. Milner, Admiral, USPHS (Ret.) Assistant Surgeon General and Miguel Valdez, director at large, Veterans Caucus .

Submitted by NSMC (North Shore Medical Center, Salem, Mass. (August 12, 2014) –Dixie Patterson, P.A.-C, a physician assistant in the North Shore Medical Center (NSMC) cardiac surgery unit was honored on Friday, August 8, by the Veterans Caucus of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) with the Outstanding Civilian Physician Assistant of the Year Award. She received a plaque from Miguel Valdez, director at large, of the Veterans Caucus, and Michael R. Milner, Admiral, USPHS (Ret.) Assistant Surgeon General. Friends and co-workers also attended in support of the presentation.

Patterson was selected for her actions as a first responder at the 2013 Marathon Bombings and showing commitment for caring for others in the community. Patterson gave a key note address at the Veterans Caucus program at the AAPA National Conference this past Memorial Day in Boston, where she shared her story about treating marathon bombing victims and survivors during her time volunteering in the marathon medical tent.

“It was a complete surprise to receive this award,” says Patterson, who has worked at NSMC since 2010. “For me, this award comes with mixed emotions. If it weren’t for the Boston Marathon bombings, I probably wouldn’t be getting this honorable recognition. I am humbled and grateful to receive this award.”

Nominees for the Outstanding Civilian Physician Assistant of the Year Award are selected based on work performance, ethical and professional standards and for outstanding contributions to the profession, community and Country, the winners are selected by the board of directors.

Patterson currently resides in Newburyport MA. She attended Duke University and graduated in 1997 from their PA program.

The Veterans Caucus of the AAPA promotes the interests and contributions of veterans through service, education, and fraternity. For the past thirty years, the group names a military and civilian physician assistant of the year.