Eric Wirta, Family Medicine, received the 2019 Minnesota Physician Assistant of the Year award from the Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants. Wirta is a Wadena-Deer Creek School alumnus.

This award recognizes physician assistants who demonstrate exemplary service to the profession and to the communities they serve.

Wirta, who works as a physician assistant in Ellsworth and Red Wing, was surprised by his colleagues with the honor. A formal award will be presented to Wirta at the annual physician assistant conference later in February.

For over 14 years, Wirta has worked as a physician assistant in primary care, occupational medicine, urgent care and the Emergency Department.

Charles Moehnke, a physician assistant who works with Wirta at the Same Day Clinic in Red Wing, nominated Wirta for the award. Moehnke recognized his colleague for his outstanding clinic skills, mentorship, and the caring and compassionate bedside manner he shows to patients.

"Eric is an outstanding provider," Moehnke said. "He is always motivated to learn more and do more to enhance the physician assistant profession. Eric is very deserving of this award."

Wirta says he is grateful for the providers, nurses and other health care professionals who have worked with him throughout his professional journey.

"I have been blessed to work with a great group of people throughout my career," he says. "This award exemplifies the collaboration and exceptional mentoring that they all have extended to me here at Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing. There are so many talented individuals in the physician assistant field. To be chosen to receive this honor is humbling."

Wirta lives in Red Wing with his wife, Holly, and their three children. During the winter months, he enjoys ice fishing.