The Advanced Practice Provider Specialty Intensive Residency (ASPIRe) Program at Denver Health

Important Dates:

ASPIRe Cohort #1: October 2023-September 2024.
Applications for Cohort #2 will open April, 1 2024.
ASPIRe Cohort #2 (anticipated): September 2024-August 2025.

Personal Interviews for selected applicants will be offered on a rolling basis until available slots are filled. Early application submission is advised.


Application Requirements and Eligibility:

Demonstrated desire to train and work in a Safety Net system that provides care to a population with socioeconomic determinants of health challenges.

Graduation from an accredited Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner program

Colorado Licensure (active or eligible)

Please submit the following application materials to:

  1. Curriculum Vitae
  2. Brief (1 page maximum) Personal Statement on your interest in this program and how it fits with your career goals.
  3. Three references’ contact information including your NP or PA Program Director, a PA or NP who knows you well, and an MD/DO with whom you have worked closely.


For further information, please contact us:

Erin Greenfield
Program Coordinator

Donald Kirkpatrick, MD, MHCM
Program Director

Kaitlyn Rowan, PA
Associate Program Director, Medical Specialties

Pavlina (“Paula”) Gust, PA
Associate Program Director-Surgical Specialties


Program Overview:

The Advanced Practice Provider Specialty Intensive Residency (ASPIRe) Program at Denver Health is a response to the unmet need for outpatient medical and surgical specialty clinic providers in the Safety Net healthcare system. Designed for graduate Nurse Practitioners or Physician Assistants who envision themselves providing specialty care to populations with socioeconomic determinants of health challenges, this novel 12-month program will provide training across multiple medical and surgical specialties. Over the course of the program, trainees will narrow their focus to the specialties for which they appear best suited and which have the greatest need at Denver Health. After 6 months of training, trainee can be assessed for eligibility for direct hire on an ongoing basis. Upon completion, it is anticipated our graduates will be ready for full-time employment in several specialties in the healthcare Safety Net with limited need for “on-boarding.”


Curriculum and Objectives:

Medical Specialties:Outpatient clinics are anticipated in Cardiology, Nephrology, and Pulmonology. During their first six months, residents will learn to manage the most common problems seen in the outpatient clinics of these specialties. During their second six months, residents will focus one or two medical or surgical specialties.

Surgical Specialties: Outpatient clinics in General Surgery, ENT, and Bariatrics. During their first six months, residents will learn to manage the most common problems seen in the outpatient clinics of these specialties. During their second six months, residents will likely focus on one or two medical or surgical specialties.



First six months: Trainees will usually have nine ½ day clinic blocks in two or three specialties and one ½ day didactic block. Chart completion and additional reading outside of clinic hours will result in an average commitment of no less than 60 hours per week. There is no required evening or weekend call, but trainees are welcome to make arrangements with individual specialties if desired.

Second six months: Trainees will begin to focus on one or two medical and surgical specialties, concentrating on the specialties most likely to represent their career trajectory. The number of ½ day clinics per week will decrease to eight, allowing time to develop an academic quality improvement project in a specialty of their choice.


Salary and benefits

ASPIRe trainees are Denver Health employees with a salary of $70,000 for the academic year, medical and dental insurance, 401K retirement plan, disability insurance, 7 paid holidays, and 20 vacation days. A loan forgiveness option is being pursued, but has not been confirmed.



ASPIRe will submit a Notice of Intent to Apply for accreditation from the Consortium for Advanced Practice Providers when appropriate. The accreditation process is anticipated to take 1-3 years. As ASPIRe is a novel program (indeed, the first of its kind) involving training across multiple medical and surgical specialties, the accreditation process may be somewhat complex. Denver Health is an established teaching institution affiliated with the University of Colorado Medicine, Physician Assistant, and Nurse Practitioner schools and holds multiple GME certifications. Our providers are all faculty members at the University of Colorado and train students, residents, and fellows in multiple specialties on a daily basis.


Program Leadership:

Don Kirkpatrick, MD, MHCM. Program Director - Dr. Kirkpatrick holds a medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a masters from Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health. He has been a clinical gastroenterologist for over 30 years and at Denver Health since 2013. A faculty member of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, he has a certificate from the Anschutz Medical Campus Teaching Scholar’s Program and is an Associate Professor of Clinical Practice.

Kaitlyn Rowan, PA. Associate Program Director, Medical Specialties - Kaitlyn received her Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies at Nova Southeastern University in 2020. After graduating PA school, she completed an 18-month Emergency Medicine Residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Since joining Denver Health’s Division of Digestive and Liver Health in March 2023, she has been eager to mentor Physician Assistant students rotating at our institution. When not practicing medicine, she enjoys spending time with her dog and hiking.

Pavlina (“Paula”) Gust, PA. Associate Program Director, Surgical Specialties - Paula received her PA degree from Yale School of Medicine in 2004. She has worked in critical care medicine specialties and joined the Denver Health Trauma Surgery team nearly 10 years ago. She has taken part in committees focused on improving patient care and outcomes and has a special interest in PA/NP mentorship and education. When not in the surgery realm, she can be found adventuring with her family and enjoying the great outdoors.

Erin Greenfield, Program Coordinator – Erin joined Denver Health in October 2023 and supports the ASPIRe APP Residency and Montbello Family Medicine Residency programs. Outside of work, she enjoys music and spending time with her family.