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Alumni News Kevin Storr February 09, 2017

Alabama PA on Call: Help When You Need ItAlabama PA on Call: Langston, Coleman, MorrissIf you’ve ever lost a job, you’ve heard the clichés – “one door closes, another door opens” or “a fresh start” or “the first day of a new you” – from all your friends.

But what do you tell yourself?

What media mogul Ted Turner, said: “There’s nothing wrong with being fired.”

Or what Apple founder Steve Jobs said: “…it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

And then, even worse, what do you do with yourself?

If you are Sheryll Coleman, PA-C, Linda Langston, PA-C, and Sally Morriss, PA-C, who weren’t fired but simultaneously lost their jobs, you do dinner.

In 2008, Coleman, Langston and Morriss, each alumna of the UAB School of Health ProfessionsPhysician Assistant Studies program, found out the company they worked for was shutting down their Alabama operations in less than a month.

Each found out at a different time. Each found out in a different location. Yet each chose to do the same thing – go out to eat dinner. As it turns out, they each chose the same restaurant.

Sheryll Coleman webSheryll Coleman, PA-C
UAB PA Class of 1987

“That phone call on a Friday in 2008, saying ‘you no longer have a job,’ was absolutely an explosion in our universe and it disrupted everything,” said Langston.

The unplanned dinner party quickly evolved into an unplanned business planning when one of the husbands asked the question: “Why don’t you all start your own company?”

“I probably never would have left the world of traditional doctor clinics or even thought about it before then,” said Morriss.

But quickly, Coleman (UAB PA Class of 1987), Langston (UAB PA Class of 1998) and Morriss (UAB PA Class of 2004) had the same question for themselves: “Why not?”

“I come from a family of entrepreneurs and would probably have started a company at some point, but without the serendipity of being together with Linda and Sally at that moment, I don’t believe I would have come up with this exact concept,” said Coleman.

Alabama PA on Call

Linda Langston webLinda Langston, PA-C
UAB PA Class of 1998
In addition to liking each other and wanting to help others, they simply worked well together. They each brought a different set of skills and strengths to this future team and in the end – it was their differences, maybe even more than their similarities, which led to the creation of their new company and its unique business model of “PAs for Hire” so to speak.

The trio quickly put together a financial plan for their new company: Alabama PA on Call. They also offered the opportunity to the other eight PAs who lost jobs to join them for this unique model of healthcare delivery, but in the end, only Coleman, Langston and Morriss signed on.

Nonetheless, everything came together so well that they walked out of their old company on a Friday and walked into their new company on a Monday.

Help When You Need It

Sally Morriss webSally Morriss, PA-C
UAB PA Class of 2004
The company slogan is “Help when you need it.”

A surgeon needs a PA for a radial head fracture? They are there. A physician needs a PA for their clinic? They are there. Short term. Long term. Any term. Alabama PA on Call is there.

And they are there, in a sense, because of the UAB Physician Assistant Studies program.

In addition to Coleman, Langston and Morriss – there are 10 UAB PA alumni working for Alabama PA on Call.

  • Traci Billingsley (’98)
  • Kim Colburn (’92)
  • Jeff C. Davis (’88)
  • Rachel Dockery (’08)
  • Randall Nord (’84)
  • Regina Goff Pruitt (’06)
  • Cindy Sampson (’84)
  • Diana Tavener (’95)
  • Harry Wheelock, Jr. (’92)
  • Wesley Winebrenner (’93)

The trio knows that a UAB PA graduate can fill any role needed because students are offered clinical rotations in emergency medicine, primary care, trauma, critical care and surgery. That broad educational component is a critical foundation for an ‘on call’ organization to provide trustworthy help whenever and wherever it is needed.

“Think of it this way, if we are helping two surgeries in two locations in one day, then Linda could perform the morning procedure and Sally could finish the procedure which allows Linda to travel and conduct the second surgery in the afternoon,” said Morriss. “Everyone that works for us plays an integral role in many different areas and because of the multiple skills we each have, we are also interchangeable pieces in a large puzzle. And that is key to our sustained success.”

The Future is Now

As Alabama PA on Call approaches its 10th anniversary, they look toward the next ten years beyond that big day in July 2018.

The “on call” aspect has been a huge success and that will not change. What they hope to change are the people they provide to help. There has been an upsurge in phone calls asking for help in addition to their PA services. The trio has discussed expanding their portfolio to include RNs, LPNs, nurse practitioners, dental hygienists, radiation technologists and more.

“We are a client driven company and we are dedicated to serving – to truly providing medical help when and where it is needed,” said Coleman, who is PA #8 in Alabama and the 1st PA hired at the Dale Medical Center in 1987. “Right now, if a client asks for a dental hygienist or a nurse then we will do our best to find one for them. So it makes perfect sense to look into expansion of the services we deliver as we move forward into the future. Because no matter how much health care coverage changes, there will always be a need for health care and we will be there to provide help when you need it.”

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