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

Important Dates for ASPIRe Cohort #1:

Program Start Date: September, 2023
Program End Date: August, 2024

Applications now being accepted until June 1, 2023
Interview Dates (In person or WebEx): June 8, 9, 15, 16
Offers Extended: Beginning June 22 until Cohort is filled.

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:

Donald Kirkpatrick, MD, MHCM
Program Director

Sung Min (“Kevin”) Lee, 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. 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 in Cardiology, Dermatology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, 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 on a smaller number of medical specialties.

Surgical Specialties: Outpatient clinics in Ears, Nose, and Throat (ENT), Urology, General Surgery, and Trauma and Acute Care (TACS). 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 a smaller number of surgical specialties.



First six months: Trainees will usually have nine ½ day clinic blocks across multiple 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 fewer 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.



In its inaugural year, ASPIRe will submit a Notice of Intent to Apply for accreditation from the Consortium for Advanced Practice Providers. 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 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.

Sung Min (“Kevin”) Lee, PA. Associate Program Director, Medical Specialties - Kevin Lee received his Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2016. As a certified physician assistant, he has been practicing in gastroenterology and hepatology since graduation in a variety of different settings including a large academic high-volume liver transplant center and in private practice. Since joining Denver Health’s Division of Digestive and Liver Health in 2022, he has been very active as a clinical educator for Physician Assistant students rotating at our institution.

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.