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USA Health welcomes emergency medicine physician and faculty member

Wattenbarger is a Diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. She is a member of the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine, the American Osteopathic Association, and the American Medical Association.

Published Nov 16th, 2022
Sara Wattenbarger, D.O

Sara Wattenbarger, D.O., was introduced to emergency medicine early in life.

When she was about 11 years old, she started portraying a standardized patient for her mother and stepfather who were both paramedics and involved in EMS education. Later, she became an EMT herself, working shifts for an ambulance company and as an emergency room tech throughout college.

Now, Wattenbarger is an emergency medicine physician at USA Health University Hospital, supporting patients and their family members on what may be the worst day of their lives. “It can be incredibly difficult at times, but it is also an honor to be entrusted in that way,” she said.

With a love for teaching, Wattenbarger said she enjoys working in an academic health system, where she is also an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine at the University of South Alabama.

“I wanted to find a location that would not only allow me to use my clinical skills in caring for patients from diverse backgrounds and with complex medical problems, but also to work with residents and medical students,” she said. “I saw USA Health as an opportunity to build on my strengths in both areas, growing as a clinician as well as an educator.”

In addition to her clinical duties, she teaches and mentors residents and medical students, moderates a portion of the department’s weekly academic forums, gives lectures and serves on several committees, and assists with residency candidate interviews.

Wattenbarger earned her medical degree from the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, part of Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona. “I tried on many specialty ‘hats’ during medical school but always kept coming back to ER,” she said.

She went on to complete her residency training in emergency medicine at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, California. She is currently in the Master of Academic Medicine Program at Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

Prior to joining USA, Wattenbarger served on the core residency faculty and was an attending physician at Kaweah Health Medical Center in Visalia, California.

Wattenbarger is a Diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. She is a member of the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine, the American Osteopathic Association, and the American Medical Association.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, their 18-month-old son and three dogs.

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