Lawrence Herman Associate Professor & Chair, Physician Assistant Studies Program
Department: Physician Assistant Studies School: Health Professions Campus: Old Westbury
Member of NYIT Since: 1999
Associate Professor Lawrence Herman's path to physician assistant (PA) studies began decades ago on the slopes of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. With hurricane-force winds and zero visibility, his climbing partner slipped and broke his leg. The incident inspired Herman to gain emergency medical experience.
"I became a paramedic and loved it," he says.
His career took off from there. Herman, the former chief PA at St. Vincent/Catholic Medical Center's Department of Emergency Medicine in New York City, joined a small team at NYIT to help shape its then-fledgling PA program. More than 10 years and two reaccreditations later, the program is thriving. He started out by developing and coordinating clerkships and is now director of PA admissions and primary care initiatives for the program.
"The students keep me young," he says. "I love working with them."
And, as the U.S. government grapples with the question of health care, Herman is at the forefront looking for answers.
"We're at a tipping point with health care right now," he says.
In January, Herman traveled to Bethesda, Md., to review $600 million in federal grants for President Barack Obama's Accountable Care Act, which is funding the building and expansion of 150 primary care facilities across the country. He was selected for the review panel by the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA).
"I found a $1.6 million mistake that saved taxpayers," he says. "That was a nice feeling."
Six years ago, his personal life would again intertwine with his career when his wife, Debora, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Herman teamed with an oncologist and alum of NYIT's College of Osteopathic Medicine, Rahul Seth (D.O. '99), to craft an aggressive chemotherapy treatment. He was also inspired to research and publish articles on the disease.
The treatment was completely successful, and the couple has made it a tradition to visit the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center each year to commemorate another cancer-free milestone.
Herman's latest research focuses on MRSA (shorthand for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus auereus), a bacterial infection resistant to common antibiotics. It made news last year when a high school wrestler on Long Island contracted it from unhygienic gym mats. His study tests whether MRSA can be acquired in outpatient primary care offices, such as doctor's offices.
For Herman, helping people by improving their health is a priority. He believes that even more can be done as a professor and mentor than as a clinician.
"If we graduate 50 students a year and they go on to take care of 25 to 30 people a day, I've impacted millions of people over a short time in a very positive way," he says.