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Heather Asher Prince, adjunct faculty with the Physician Assistant Studies program, has received recognition as a distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, among the highest honors for the PA profession. Asher Prince is the director of clinical operations for the clinical pharmacology and analytical chemistry core in the Division of Pharmacy and Experimental Therapeutics at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Distinguished fellows are PAs who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to their profession in the following areas:

Heather Asher Prince
Heather Asher Prince
  • Distinction in medical practice, education, research or healthcare management
  • Leadership in medicine and healthcare
  • Professional involvement
  • Commitment to lifelong learning
  • Community service

We spoke with Asher Prince to learn more about her involvement with the PA program and what it means to her to become a distinguished fellow.

Q: What’s your educational background?

A: I did my undergraduate work at Peace College (now William Peace University) in Raleigh, North Carolina, studying biology and microbial genetics with a minor in Latin. I went on to receive my master’s degree as a physician assistant at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), concentrating in general surgery. I received additional post-graduate education and training in the areas of bariatrics and general/thoracic surgery. Thereafter, my mentor from EVMS asked me to start a private practice with him in a small town in New York. I worked for him until I came to UNC-Chapel Hill 10 years ago.

Q: Why did you want to become a PA? 

A: I always knew I wanted to be in medicine somewhere. I didn’t know what a PA was until a mom that I babysat for in high school mentioned to me I would make a great PA, as her sister-in-law was one. When I started to research the field, I knew instantly it was the right path for me. I knew I had more to offer the medical profession than doing one specialty for the rest of my life. In other words, I knew that what I wanted to do practice-wise in my 20s was likely to be very different than what I wanted in my 40s and 50s. A PA degree offered me the most professional flexibility to adapt over time. I have never looked back.

Q: Why did you decide to become involved with the PA program?

A: I was involved with the PA program at EVMS after graduation, serving on the interview committee and precepting students. I also worked with PA students and foreign medical graduates, precepting  and lecturing in surgical topics, while I was in practice in NY. When I moved to NC, and discovered that UNC-CH didn’t have a PA program, I sincerely missed it. I eagerly awaited its opening once I heard that one was coming to UNC-CH in 2016.

Q: What does your job at UNC-CH entail? 

A: We design, write and conduct a multitude of domestic and international clinical trials. I oversee the clinical aspects of those trials. I also work with department graduate students and  post-doctoral fellows in education, mentoring and training on how to conduct and manage human subjects in clinical research disciplines

Q: What do you enjoy about working with our students?

A: I really love the full-circle moments. On some days, I still feel like the student sitting in the classroom. When I find myself on the other side of the classroom, it is a very surreal experience.

Q: What does it mean to you to receive this recognition? 

A: It is an incredible honor. I am very proud of how hard I have worked to further the PA profession, champion us as providers, educate the next generation, and advocate for my patients. It is a select few that get this honor, with only about one percent of the 115,000+ PAs in the nation carrying this designation. With it, I will continue to work to best serve the current and future needs of the profession.

The PA program is housed in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Allied Health Sciences.