by Bryan Lindenberger

University of West Georgia alumni serving as health care professionals recently presented before Emerging Healthcare Leaders (EHL), a multidisciplinary student organization housed in the chemistry department with more than 60 members.

Allyson Cooper and Dr. Jeff Reid, seated, speak before an audience in a classroom.
Allyson Cooper and Dr. Jeff Reid

One of several speakers, Allyson Cooper, graduated from UWG in 2010 with a degree in biology before completing the physician assistant program at Mercer University. She currently works at Summit Urgent Care as a physician’s assistant, or PA.

Several members of Cooper’s family attended UWG, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to follow in their footsteps. A campus tour quickly changed her mind, as she recognized the opportunity to follow her passion and to become part of a caring, vibrant campus community.

Cooper soon became active on campus. Apart from the dedication required to major in biology, she served as a teacher’s assistant for organic chemistry, a resident adviser, and was involved in the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), an earlier incarnation of EHL.

“I absolutely loved West Georgia,” said Cooper. “I felt like it was a family here, and faculty were genuinely interested in my success.”

What she particularly loves about her job as a PA is the high level of collaboration with the supervising physician.

“Urgent care is an excellent place for health care professionals seeking that opportunity,” she said.

Likewise, Dr. Jeff Reid obtained his undergraduate degree in biology from UWG and graduated from the Mercer University School of Medicine in 2000. Board-certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease and sleep medicine, Reid founded West Georgia Lung and Sleep Medicine LLC, part of the Primary Care Group of West Georgia.

“I received a great education at West Georgia,” said Reid, a Bowdon resident.

After medical school, he returned to the area in 2007 to establish his own private practice in pulmonary critical care. With a head for both business and health care, he enjoys the independence of private practice — yet acknowledges that risks and responsibilities accompany this freedom.

EHL members engaged in the opportunity to ask Cooper and Reid about their paths to success in applying to medical school, making career choices, and achieving a healthy work-life balance.

Dr. Victoria J. Geisler, an associate professor of chemistry at UWG, has served as faculty adviser for EHL for more than 20 years. Geisler describes her advisory role as one of guidance and steering for a diverse collection of health care professionals, including physicians, dentists, pharmacists, PAs, physical therapists and others involved in the pre-medical field.

Geisler doesn’t shy away from providing assistance at a hands-on level, as she actively collaborated with UWG alumni in the development and organization of EHL’s event on the UWG campus.

“It is an honor to have our alumni come back to UWG and to encourage our current students to understand they too can become successful medical professionals,” Geisler said. “Working with the emerging health care leaders is rewarding, and I am gratified to see so many students aspiring to achieve their dreams.”

Posted on May 7. 2018