University of Evansville Announces New Physician Assistant Program

Posted: Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The University of Evansville is proud to announce that it will launch a new physician assistant program, the first in the Tri-State area, to build on its existing strength in health professions education and help meet the growing need for health care providers. The master’s-level program is slated to begin classes in January 2017 at the incoming multi-institutional academic health science and research center heading to downtown Evansville. 

The University began investigating the feasibility of a physician assistant program more than two years ago. A physician assistant program will be beneficial to our area because the prevalence of physician assistants (PAs) in the Tri-State is lower than the national average and Evansville is surrounded by many medically underserved areas. In addition, experts in the health care field project significant shortages of primary care providers, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for physician assistants will grow by 30 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than average.

The University is currently conducting a national search for a physician assistant program director and pursuing provisional accreditation, a status granted to new PA programs, from the Accreditation Review Council on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

The program will be just one of the University of Evansville offerings to be housed in the new downtown medical research facility, including the doctor of physical therapy program and possibly others in the future. This facility will provide collaborative research opportunities open to all entities involved, and all institutions will benefit from shared learning spaces such as the simulation laboratory and the gross anatomy laboratory.

UE’s physician assistant program will last approximately 24 to 30 months and will include both classroom and clinical education in topics such as medical sciences; behavioral and social sciences; clinical medicine, patient assessments; and health policy and practice issues.

“Although PA classes don’t begin until 2017, students can come to UE right now and get started on a preparatory undergraduate degree or individual prerequisites for the program,” says Dr. Lynn Penland, senior vice president of academic affairs for the University of Evansville. “UE offers many degrees which are compatible with preparation for entry into a master’s program for physician assistants. Starting fall, 2015, we look forward to welcoming new freshman students, who are interested in becoming physician assistants.”

Physician assistants work as part of a physician-led team to provide a broad range of diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive, and health maintenance services: performing physical exams, diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering and interpreting tests, prescribing certain medications, and more. PAs work in diverse medical and surgical settings, including family and internal medicine, emergency departments, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery and surgical sub-specialties, and mental and behavioral health care.

Learn more about UE's physician assistant program at http://www.evansville.edu/majors/physicianassistant/

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