Meet Zackery Tegge, emergency medicine physician assistant
Fri, Oct 29, 2021
But when he was 18 and just out of high school, he was like a lot of young guys. He kind of knew what he wanted to do with his life, but he wasn’t sure.
He’d taken a health occupations course in high school. A friend’s father, a cardiothoracic surgeon, provided some inspiration. So something there was a possibility.
But when you grow up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, sometimes you want to see what else there is in the world. You want some adventure. For Tegge, it was the lure of the tropics.
“I moved down to the Caribbean when I was 18 and was a beach bum and made pizzas. I tented out with a buddy of mine from high school for the first two weeks until we could find a place to live,” he says.
A year of that was enough.
After living on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands for a year, Tegge returned home and enrolled at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. His interest in pursuing a career in medicine intensified after studying biological sciences during his second year of college.
“That’s really where I said … ‘OK, I can do biology, I can do chemistry, I like medicine, this sounds like a fit.’ And then I searched the roles of medicine to see if I wanted to go to med school to be a doctor or be a nurse and advance my career from there.”
It didn’t take Tegge long to realize that after shadowing cardiology physician assistants at U.P. Health System, formerly Marquette General, that a PA position was a perfect fit for him.
Tegge enrolled in PA school at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida, and studied remotely for four years on St. Croix and St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.
Training in the Caribbean “was a really great learning experience,” Tegge says.
“The conditions there aren’t good for working or practicing medicine. It’s real bare bones. You’re stripped of a lot of your amenities. So, I think starting a rotation there and seeing what people can do with a lack of resources to provide exceptional care for populations when they’re working with limited resources was very intriguing to me.”
Tegge developed his passion for emergency medicine while completing a rotation at the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital & Medical Center on St. Croix. The diversity of care attracted him to the specialty, he says.
After graduating from PA school in 2016, Tegge began practicing at the St. Croix hospital. It was an “unforgettable experience.”
“There were two Category 5 hurricanes that struck the Virgin Islands less than two weeks apart (in September 2017). Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. After Hurricane Maria came through, I spent 48 hours at the hospital. They expect you to pack up a bag, come to the hospital and set up some air mattresses in triage rooms and rooms that aren’t being used. It was kind of like a big sleepover. The storm itself lasted for 12 to 14 hours. A lot of the hospital was severely wrecked. Lots of doors were blown off.”
Winds from Hurricane Maria topped 160 mph, destroying the St. Croix hospital. It was condemned and has never been repaired, Tegge says.
A year later, Tegge, his wife, Amanda, whom he met in undergraduate school, and their son, Croix, moved to Wisconsin, where he began practicing with BayCare Clinic Emergency Physicians.
He’d learned about that opportunity from a PA school classmate. Bryan Stoppenbach, a physician assistant with BayCare Clinic Emergency Physicians, had told Tegge how he enjoyed working with BayCare Clinic.
When Tegge isn’t treating patients, he spends time serving as an active-duty Wisconsin National Guard Soldier with the 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered at Camp Douglas in south-central Wisconsin. He has an eight-year commitment with the Wisconsin National Guard.
“I primarily work with the medics within our platoon and train them to further their development and growth and kind of help with their interactions as far as how they need to be trained and how to react to certain situations,” he says.
Tegge’s uncle, retired Army Maj. Steve Tegge, played an influential role in Tegge’s desire to join the military. Steve Tegge served more than two decades.
Tegge also has a long-standing history of military involvement in his family.
“My great-grandfather, Albert Tegge, was active Army and my grandfather, Richard Tegge or “Dick” Tegge, was Air Force for 20 plus years. All of these individuals I look up to very much. I appreciate their service to our country and I got a lot out of my discussions with my grandfather.”
Serving has helped Tegge develop his goals and grow his career, he says.
Zackery Tegge is a physician assistant with BayCare Clinic Emergency Physicians. He sees patients in Green Bay, Oshkosh and Two Rivers.
About BayCare Clinic
BayCare Clinic, baycare.net, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.