The Board of Trustees of The College of St. Scholastica has approved beginning the development of a physician assistant (PA) program at the school.
"This move puts St. Scholastica on track to offer one of the fastest growing health care career majors out there," said Rondell Berkeland, the College's Dean of Health Sciences. "The PA program is a deepening of St. Scholastica's longstanding strength in educating health care practitioners and leaders."
The development plan is to be ready to accept students in 2016 pending all accreditation processes and approvals. St. Scholastica will seek provisional accreditation through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). In the event that ARC-PA does not award provisional accreditation, students will not be accepted into the program for a 2016 start.
The physician assistant professional education program will be offered at the master's degree level. Students will enter the program after completing their bachelor's degree. The College of St. Scholastica currently offers a pre-physician assistant program.
"According to the Minnesota Department of Economic Development, the demand for PA's is expected to grow 43 percent by 2019," Berkeland said, which places the occupation fourth among fastest-growing occupations in the state. The department's research also shows that Minnesota ranks third among states with the highest occupational demand for physician assistants.
Physician assistants aid medical doctors by providing diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive healthcare services. They may also assume responsibility for administrative duties. Physician assistants nationwide had a median annual salary of $90,000 in 2010, according to the American Association of Physician Assistants.
The CNNMoney website has ranked the profession ninth on its list of the "100 Best Jobs In America," and reported: "Today's doctor shortage will only worsen as boomers age and health care reform brings more patients into the system, creating a huge need for physician assistants."
In the tradition of St. Scholastica's nationally renowned academic health care programs, graduates will be prepared to work at the top of their license and be leaders in their profession. St. Scholastica also has a commitment to serve rural healthcare, which is an increasingly acute need.
"As American healthcare evolves in the 21st century, there is a clear need for professionals who can work with physicians to extend their services - particularly in rural communities," Berkeland said. "Our new program reinforces St. Scholastica's leadership in health care and will provide a vital asset for an aging population."
For more information visit our Physician Assistant page.