Physician Assistant graduate program gets nod to grow

As the fourth fastest growing profession in the U.S., the demand for physician assistants is expected to grow by 27 percent in the decade leading up to 2016.

Marietta College is helping to meet that need with its Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program. Recently the program received approval to increase the number of students accepted into the program.

This fall, the College will accept 30 new students into the program and that number will increase to 36 students in the fall of 2010. The approval came from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Until the fall 2008, the program was certified to accept 22 new students each year.

The graduate program begins with the didactic phase, which students learn basic medical sciences and clinical medicine in the classroom and the lab. Afterward, students undertake a 15-month clinical phase, which includes a Capstone Project and required instruction in various clinical rotations in family medicine, internal medicine, general surgery, pediatrics, emergency medicine, orthopedics, psychiatry/behavioral medicine and one elective clinical setting.

The PA profession is the fourth fastest growing profession and the need to continue to train health care providers is essential to the region, said Dr. Gloria Stewart, chair and director of the PA program. It is the hope of the program that as we educate our students here and throughout the region, we will be helping to provide an increase access to health care.

Stewart was involved in the creation of the PA graduate program at Marietta in 2002. It was the fifth such program established in Ohio and has, since its creation, graduated 96 physician assistants.