61 Beaver Brook Road, Suite 301
Lincoln Park, NJ 07035
Animal Science, Cook College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Biology with Physiology Concentration, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ
Physician Assistant Program, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ
Certifications & Memberships:
Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification for Healthcare Providers
Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) Certification
American Academy of Physician Assistants
New Jersey State Society of Physician Assistants
2019 Edward J. III Excellence in Medicine Scholarship Award
Physician Assistant Puts Patients at Ease and Encourages Dialogue
“Developing a good rapport with my patients is very important in successfully treating their health concerns.”
Jodie Kunkel was heading toward veterinary school when she discovered her lifelong calling as a physician assistant. She was working as a vet tech at the time and met a client who was a physician assistant. That client invited Jodie to shadow her on the job, and the rest was history.
“I had always loved science and medicine,” said Jodie, “but I was the only one of four in my family to go to college. I didn’t think medicine was a field that would be attainable. When I found out about physician assistants, I realized that the job encompasses everything I’ve always wanted to do, and that I could do it.”
In the meantime, Jodie built up her resume to qualify for the competitive PA program at Rutgers University. She got a job at Merck & Co., working as a senior scientist in cardiometabolic disease. The company paid for her to earn a master’s in biology with a concentration in physiology, which would also help with her PA studies. Finally, the day arrived when she heard that she was accepted to the program. It also happened to be the day that Merck offered her a promotion. She chose to pursue the physician assistant degree. “Having to work so hard to get into the program made me realize how much I wanted to be a physician assistant,” she said.
During one of her clinical rotations, she discovered Vanguard Medical Group. “I absolutely loved it—the staff and the philosophy,” said Jodie. “This is all about what’s best for the patient.”
At Vanguard, Jodie works to build relationships with her patients—one of the benefits, she believes, of primary care. “I think the personal connection is so important,” she explained. “When patients know you, they can be a little more open.” She makes it a point to ask about their lives. “When I see a doctor or another provider, I want that person to know who I am. I do the same with my patients.”
When she’s not working, Jodie likes to draw, knit, and crochet. When time allows, Jodie volunteers at the Food Bank of New Jersey and Special Olympics of New Jersey, and with animal rescues and shelters. She enjoys spending time with her fiancé, their husky named Luna, and five cats.