All Roads Lead to Home

Anyone who has considered a mid-life career change would find Theresa Dwyer’s professional path an inspiration. Dwyer decided eight years ago, at the age of 40, to leave her job in car sales and pursue a career in medicine. “Back then, outside of work I was a competitive triathlete and teaching spin classes at a local gym,” she says. “In the same week, two different physicians in my class told me I should consider becoming a physician assistant. It was serendipitous.”

After reading about the role PAs play in health care, Dwyer agreed it was a good fit for her. She decided to quit her job and move from The Dalles to Eugene with her two high school-age daughters to attend the University of Oregon.

“I needed to complete my prerequisites to get into a physician assistant program. I then decided to complete a master’s degree in human physiology with a focus on cardiology to bolster my chances of being accepted into a PA school.”

Persistence paid off, and Dwyer moved again to attend the University of Iowa. Focusing on cardiology was personal for her. “I wanted to be able to advocate well for loved ones with heart issues,” she says. After graduation, she began working at a faculty clinic affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco. It was a dynamic academic environment where she thought she could learn the most and learn it quickly. Not long after, she learned of an opening at MCMC Cardiology in her hometown.

“I always thought I would come back,” Dwyer says of her move home to The Dalles. “Generations of my family are rooted here. I’m close to my mom and brother, who still live here. I want the privilege of time with them.” Her mother, Helen Elsmere, is an active community volunteer and well known in the area. Helen works in the MCMC gift shop and supports the local Kiwanis, Boy Scouts and the backpack program, among other local causes.

What does she enjoy most about patient care and her specialty, cardiology? “I enjoy building long- term relationships,” says Dwyer. “I like knowing patients, the ones who love and care for them, and the personalities involved. It matters. Cardiology is challenging because it is complex. Heart conditions are often interwoven with multiple other medical issues. The most rewarding part of my job is seeing empowered patients help create effective treatment plans they are willing and able to follow. MCMC Cardiology has a stellar team, and I'm happy to be working with such well-respected healthcare professionals who are also very good people.”