UND phys. assistant student completing his clinical rotation
“It was an eye-opening experience,” Morris Duffy said.
Duffy was a paramedic for three years in Kansas City, and a firefighter paramedic for nine years for the Overland Park Fire Department, a suburb of Kansas City.
“I liked the excitement of working as a firefighter/ paramedic—the rush. The fire department job gave me that,” he said. “The fire trucks, the burning buildings, taking care of the injured and driving around with fellow firefighters who were enjoying their jobs as much as I was—I loved it all.”
“We both had great jobs and good pay, but, ultimately, that was not the most important thing for us,” Duffy said.
The Duffys wanted to give their children the same opportunity they had growing up in a smaller community with grandparents and family close by and a safer place to live. In Kansas City, there was a lot of crime.
“It made the news constantly,” Duffy said. “We were in a safe neighborhood, but, even there, we had two of our vehicles stolen.”
Duffy is currently enrolled in the University of North Dakota’s (UND) Physician Assistant (PA) Program and is doing his clinical rotation at the Linton Hospital and Clinics.
He started in the PAprogram with UND in May of 2012, taking required classes on-line as well as attending classes on campus. It is a two-year program, and 17 weeks are spent on campus. In February, Duffyreturnedfromfourweeks at UND and is now doing his clinical rotation in Linton through April. He will then go backtoUNDforfiveweeksand return to Linton, back again to UND and finish up his clinical rotation again in Linton from October through December.
Duffy chose the PA field mostly because he missed having the patient contact connection.
“It was always in the back of my mind to have a better connection with patients, to follow through and see how the patients did following the immediate treatment,” Duffy said.
Growing up in the small community of Hillsboro, Duffy gained a good understanding of how important it is to have medical services available in the rural areas. His father was a nursing home and hospital administrator.
“I have been very impressed with the services offered through Linton Hospital,” he said. “That is the way it should be. People should not have to travel far to get these types of services.”
Duffy has appreciated the staff at the hospital and clinic in Linton as they are playing a crucial part in his training, teaching him on proper procedures and assessments.
“From day one, the staff has been so open and inviting in helping me succeed in my profession,” Duffy said. “There are so many facets to being a medical provider and in the arena of medicine of which I had no idea.”
When working as a team, Duffy said, you learn the roles of each medical staff member and also the office personnel.
“Every day, they have taken time to assist me in my new career, and that affects their schedule as I follow them throughout the day,” he said.
Duffy is equally impressed with the community of Linton.
“The patients have been very nice to work with, and the buildings here are so well kept,” Duffy said. “This is the type of community I could see myself working in and raising a family.”
Duffy is not sure what the future will bring for him, but he does know he prefers to be in a smaller community as it is important to him that he has that closer connection to his patients and also offers his family the lifestyle they would like.
“For me and my wife, it is not just based on how much the paycheck will be, it is about the quality of life, being happy in what we are doing and what we are offering for our family,” he said.
Doctor Edgar Oliveira is Duffy’s supervisor and said Duffy is doing a very good job at the Linton Hospital and Clinics.
“He is very detailed and does an amazing job,” Dr. Oliveira said. “He is so pleasant, and patients really like him as he makes such a great connection with them.”
Dr. Oliveira said it does take more effort as he and the staff provide training to Duffy, but he noted the trade-off is worth it.
“He takes a lot of time with the patients and that helps me,” Dr. Oliveira said.
In his career as a physician, Dr. Oliveira has helped train approximately 10 medical students. The most recent was Jen Schneider, also a student with the UND PA program. Schneider was one of the contacts who Duffy had visited with, and she told him about the great experience she had at the Linton Hospital.
The staff at the Linton Hospital and Clinic value Duffy’s knowledge and his ability to work with patients.
“He brings a great deal of knowledge with his background in paramedics,” Family Nurse Practitioner Jackie Grunefelder said. “He is very good with patients, and they have been very receptive toward him.”
Physician Assistant Alice Schatz said Duffy does a lot of studying, he is hard working and very eager and way above average.
“Also, he is so genuine and friendly,” Schatz said. “He has a good understanding of small towns and has such a great respect for people of all ages, and does so well with the elderly.”
Education, background and family
Duffy grew up in Hillsboro and graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1996. He attended NDSU in Fargo and majored in Biology. Duffy also attended FM Ambulance, a one-year paramedic school in Fargo.
After discovering a newfound interest in paramedicine, Duffy moved to Kansas City and attended the University of Central Missouri. He completed the undergraduate program in Crisis and Disaster Management with a minor in Fire Service Management. He lived in Kansas City with his family working as a paramedic and a firefighter/paramedic for about 10 years.
Duffy and his family moved to North Dakota in August of 2009 while he was working for the Bismarck Fire Department. Duffy’s wife, Jocelyn, who grew up in Washburn, is a speech therapist with the Bismarck School District.
“My wife has been so very supportive, along with our families,” Morris said. “This has been a team effort as it takes a lot of dedication.”
The Duffys have two daughters—Emma is six and Irelyn is two.