Health Care

Health Care Heroes: NP/PA

By Staff Reports, posted Oct 21, 2022

Honors a nurse practitioner or physician assistant whose performance is considered exemplary by patients, peers and other health care providers 


Title: Physician assistant

Organization: Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute - Cardiology

What the nominator said: “Megan has worked as a Cardiology Physician Assistant with Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute – Cardiology (formerly Cape Fear Heart Associates) since its inception in 2011. In her role, she exemplifies the ideal Physician Assistant in every aspect of her work. As a clinician, she has a keen diagnostic acumen, patient-centered focus and empathy, superb documentation, and partners well with multiple cardiology physicians.  In short, she performs all of her day-to-day tasks to an utmost level of perfection which she demands from herself.

“What sets Megan apart and justifies her consideration for a 2022 Health Care Hero, is not her skill as a Physician Assistant, but her leadership both among her peers, and also within our cardiology group. … Our high-performing group of 21 Cardiology APPs functions with a positive attitude even in times of practice stress as a result of Megan’s leadership.”

– William T. Smith, market clinical physician executive, coastal market, Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute


Title: Occupational medicine physician assistant      
Organization: Wilmington Health

What the nominator said: “Dan Shapiro is a remarkable individual and health care provider. Dan was one of the very early pioneers of occupational health and medicine in the Wilmington area, and I am comfortable in my belief that there is no other provider in this area who has a greater grasp and understanding of corporate medicine and the importance of that specialty to not only the individual citizens of the community at large, but to business and industry as well.

“Having an extremely infectious personality that has never met a stranger, Dan is able to immediately gain the trust of his patients as a caring and knowledgeable provider who is determined to meet his or her occupational medicine needs. … In addition to providing occupational medicine care and treatment to employees, Dan also makes himself available to conduct on-site safety tours of business and industry clients in the area to provide input and advice about maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for employees.  This type of service helps ‘close the loop’ by both taking care of employee occupational medicine needs and finding ways to help keep employees safe and healthy.”

– J. Dale Key, CEO (retired), Eastern Carolina Emergency Physicians


Title: Orthopedic physician assistant

Organization: EmergeOrtho

What the nominator said: “Mr. Walden has spent nearly 50 years serving Wilmington as an orthopedic physician’s assistant. After graduating from New Hanover High School in 1968, Deak served his country by joining the U.S. Navy. He was selected into the Corpsman program and earned his PA certification there. Afterwards, he returned to his native Wilmington and began working as an OPA at Wilmington Orthopaedic Group in 1973. Through many professional mergers, Mr. Walden has remained loyal and continues to work for its current iteration as EmergeOrtho. Deak is an indispensable asset in the operating room and recent ‘attempts’ at retirement were short-lived as his surgeons pleaded with him to keep assisting them. However, at the heart of his decision to stay, I believe, is what Deak has said many times: ‘I just love what I do.’

“As I am in a related health care field, over the years I have had occasional shared patients. Every time Mr. Walden’s name is mentioned, I hear nothing but positive comments about his professionalism, quality work, and demeanor.”  

 Alan Simmerman, physical therapist, Physical Therapy Services of Wilmington

Read more about all of the 2022 Health Care Heroes finalists here.

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