Hundreds of actors have played health care roles on TV and in movies. But an actor in real health care? Meet Dan Deublein, future physician assistant.
As a pre-med major at Arizona State University, Dan Deublein hadn’t given acting a second thought since his nonspeaking role in “Oliver” in the sixth grade. That changed when an agent in Phoenix approached the Alec Baldwin lookalike with the question, “Have you ever thought about acting?”
Deublein landed two auditions for commercials in a week and, to his surprise, booked both.
Deublein switched his major to theater arts and booked more commercials. Despite being “terrified” by Shakespeare, he landed the role of romantic lead Petruchio in a campus production of “The Taming of the Shrew.” His performance won him a Maxie Award, an area honor recognizing achievement in university and professional theater.
After graduating, Deublein moved to Los Angeles. He eventually landed roles in lower-budget movies, on the soap opera “General Hospital” and then on its spin-off, “Port Charles.” Soon he was playing Ben Swift, accountant for actor Luke Perry, on Fox TV’s hit prime-time drama about wealthy teens, “Beverly Hills 90210.”
The show was both the height of Deublein’s acting career and the beginning of its end.
Deublein became director of operations for a friend’s post-production studio, earned his license as an emergency medical technician and volunteered as a ski patroller at a nearby resort.
That literal downhill trajectory in his career put him on a new path. Every incident involved trauma and often broken bones, including one man’s fractured femur that Deublein set with two skis. “It was intense training, but I loved helping people,” he says. “Plus the work felt important–not like acting.”
By then married, he also was drawn to textbooks his wife, Lauree, was studying to get into nursing. Eventually they moved to Des Moines, Lauree’s hometown and location of DMU’s physician assistant program.
Deublein began making connections. He contacted the president of the Iowa Physician Assistant Society, Jolene Kelly, M.S., PA-C, a DMU faculty member and now director of the PA program.
Interested in global health, Deublein–not yet enrolled at DMU–contacted Yogesh Shah, M.D., of DMU’s global health program. The University was organizing its first trip to Belize, Central America, so Deublein and his wife paid their own way to go.
He went on DMU’s medical service trip to El Salvador in March, is philanthropy chair for his class and is working to launch an organization, PAs Unite, to create more global health opportunities for PAs.
“I feel incredibly lucky to be here. PAs have such diverse backgrounds, but I feel they’re all in it for the right reasons.They want to treat patients,” he says. “I’m a theater major surrounded by biochemistry majors. I’m very thankful the program sees people’s diversities for what they are and accepts them.”