Michael Vollmer (’16) MMS-PA-C

Sometimes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. This is especially true for Michael Vollmer (’16), MMS, PA-C, who currently is Lead APP for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine for Wake Forest Baptist Health. Vollmer’s primary clinical duties involve assessment of patients in the adult and pediatric emergency department at Baptist. “These patients are generally in some type of psychiatric crisis,” he said. “Administratively, I lead a group of excellent APPs and am responsible for our expansion within the department. PAs have been essential in helping to meet our clinical demands.” 

Michael Vollemer ('16) MMS-PA-C head shotOn a normal day, Vollmer starts his mornings with re-evaluating the patients seen overnight. He then develops a disposition plan in conjunction with his team of social workers. Once those patients are taken care of, Vollmer provides specialty consults for new patients in the emergency department. “I particularly enjoy working with children, teens and young adults, so I also have one day in our outpatient psychiatry clinic,” said Vollmer. “I like this setting because of the continuity of care and the ability to build long-lasting relationships with patients.” 

Regarding his work environment, Vollmer explained that a barrier he faces is lack of access to mental health specialists. Fortunately, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is moving towards a collaborative care model in which primary care providers, care managers, and psychiatric consultants work together to provide care and monitor patients’ progress. “Numerous research studies have demonstrated the ability of this model to improve access, outcomes, cost-efficiency, and patient satisfaction,” said Vollmer. “PAs have always practiced collaboratively with physicians and other healthcare providers, so it’s a great opportunity to be a big player in this model.” 

Reflecting back on his days as a student, the competitive but collegial environment of the PA program is what Vollmer most remembers. “All of us striving to be the best we could in order to prepare for the road ahead was both challenging and inspiring,” said Vollmer. “At times, I was unsure if I would make it, but when I think back now there is a tremendous amount of pride in completing the journey.”

Since day one, training at Wake PA prepared Vollmer for clinical practice. He highlighted the inquiry-based learning model and said, “it provides students with the tools to practice in a rapidly changing field and to think critically about complex cases.” He went on to say that “the small group learning prepared me to work well with other PAs and healthcare professionals.”

Vollmer also had praise for the communication skills training built into the Wake PA curriculum. “As PAs, we pride ourselves on strong interpersonal and communication skills, which are instilled in students from the beginning,” said Vollmer. “This undoubtedly contributed to my development as a psychiatric provider.”

Michael Vollemer with his dogs Abby and Finn in a grassy meadow in the mountainsWhen asked what advice he has for current students, Vollmer wanted them to know that there will be challenging moments but that they will have a support systems in place to help them succeed. “All of the faculty are incredibly supportive and want you to be successful,” said Vollmer. “The best advice I can give to an incoming student is to embrace the challenge and remember the reasons that led you to pursue becoming a PA.”

The flexibility and variability in Vollmer’s role is what sustains his passion for the medical profession these days. “In psychiatry, each patient is a new experience and presents unique challenges that continue to inspire me to grow as a provider,” said Vollmer. “My job is very rewarding because I have the privilege of helping patients often in their most vulnerable or intimate moments and then leading them to wellness.” In particular, Vollmer enjoys helping children and their families in crisis. ”It’s a constant source of satisfaction and a meaningful part of my clinical practice.”

Outside of work, you can find Vollmer in the great outdoors hiking, kayaking or snowboarding. In addition, he enjoys traveling, cooking and playing with his dogs, Abby and Finn. He also participates in volunteer work as a paramedic for Watauga County Rescue Squad, which he’s been an active part of for ten years. Some of the top things on his bucket list include learning to fly a helicopter and traveling around Europe.