Ruth Ballweg, MPA, PA-C is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington MEDEX Northwest’s Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine. She is a recognized as a leader and pioneer in the physician assistant education.
She graduated from the MEDEX PA program in 1977, and practiced in family medicine in Ashland, Oregon, as the community’s first PA. Ms. Ballweg moved to Bremerton, Washington in 1980, and was the first PA employed at the Bremerton-Kitsap County Health Department. Her assignments included family planning, sexually transmitted diseases, jail health, immigrant health, and maternal child health clinics.
She returned to MEDEX as a faculty member in 1981, and became Director in 1985. During her tenure as Director (1985-2014), the program grew from accepting 20 students for a one-year certificate program to a multiple-training site program that admitted 120 students annually in four training sites for either bachelors or master’s degree options.
Beyond MEDEX, Ms. Ballweg has worked extensively with national and regional leaders in the PA, family medicine, and nursing communities, and serves as a consultant for health care organizations on interdisciplinary primary care teams. In her role as a PA educator, Ms. Ballweg has served as a site visitor and/or consultant to many PA programs, and has served on a variety of PAEA committees and task forces related to research, governmental affairs, and international strategies.
Ms. Ballweg has been a trailblazer in preserving the history of the profession, and has been associated with the Society for the Preservation of Physician Assistant History since its inception in 2001. She served as its first secretary, and has subsequently served several terms as president, emphasizing the important of remembering the profession’s past to secure its future. She is a coauthor with Thomas Piemme, Alfred Sadler, Jr. and Reginald Carter of “The Physician Assistant: An Illustrated History,” (2013) supported by the grants from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She has been editor and contributor to the first American textbook written on PA training, now in its fifth edition.
In 2015, Ms. Ballweg was the first recipient of the PAEA Lifetime Achievement Award. She was awarded the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who’s Who in 2018.