SIOUX CENTER—A N’West Iowa native has returned to the area to help with a new college program and assist Sioux Center Health.
Thirty-year-old Jill Van Otterloo’s primary role is professor of practice at Northwestern College in Orange City, one of eight staff interviewing the first cohort of students this fall for the college’s new master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies launching in June.
In September she also began assisting the Sioux Center Health Medical Clinic three Fridays a month.
“I’m very excited to be a part of this new program, but I couldn’t completely give up patient care,” Van Otterloo said. “I love practicing, seeing patients. I especially love family practice, being able to see all the life span of ages. Also, being I’m a professor of practice rather than tenure, I need to continue practicing. I think it’ll enhance my teaching ability too. How can you teach if you haven’t done or aren’t doing what you’re teaching?”
Before moving to Sioux County, Van Otterloo served as a physician assistant at Mercy Family Clinic in Forest City for three year after earning her master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies from Des Moines University.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Iowa State University. She also previously was a certified nursing assistant, or CNA, for the Cherokee Community School District. Van Otterloo has worked as a CNA at Windmill Manor in Coralville and as a patient care assistant at the Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, SD.
“I knew I wanted to be in health care going into college,” she said. “I originally was thinking of getting my master’s in nursing but decided I didn’t want to do hospital work the rest of my life. I was introduced to the PA profession and really liked the way PAs practice — it’s very team oriented.”
As a physician assistant student, she worked with Dr. Scott Rens in the Sioux Center Health Hull Medical Clinic for a time.
“I grew up in a rural area, so I knew I wanted to come back to a rural setting,” she said. “Compared to working in a city, in rural practice you get to do a lot more, you see a lot more variety and working with Dr. Rens gave me a taste of working in the area, which I really liked.”
Van Otterloo felt that being a physician assistant would also grant her more flexibility in the future to raise a family.
“It’s really nice to be back and closer to family to be able to do more family oriented things,” said Van Otterloo, whose husband, Mitchell, is from Hull. The couple reside in Orange City with their two children — 3-year-old son Rhett and 19-month-old daughter Reese. “We like to attend community events, go on bike rides, spend time at the park — do a lot of family oriented activities.”