EMU Physician Assistant Program generates interest as it fills growing demand for trained professionals

 

By Geoff Larcom / EMU

YPSILANTI – The Eastern Michigan University Physician Assistant Program has generated deep nationwide interest since its launch in May 2014, drawing nearly 1,000 applications annually for the 30 seats in the program while enjoying a nearly 100 percent job placement rate post-graduation.

Those statistics reflect the high demand for the physician assistant (PA) profession, as physician assistants (PAs) help to fill the gap in a projected shortage of primary care physicians as well as the fact they can practice in virtually any medical specialty.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the number of PAs will increase 37 percent from 2016 to 2026 (much faster than average). Interest in the profession is also very high, as the PA profession is consistently named one of the Best Master’s Degree for Jobs by Forbes and among the Best Job’s in America by U.S. News & World Report.

Program alumni currently have a post-graduation job placement rate of 98 percent, and overall, more than 94 percent of enrolled students have completed the program since its inception. Last month, the program welcomed its sixth entering class.

The program enjoys a strong partnership with St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, which provides half of the clinical rotations for the PA students, as well as state of the art practical learning experiences in the hospital’s patient simulation and human anatomy cadaver labs at the hospital.

Most students complete their clinical rotations in Michigan, and post-graduate survey data shows 95 percent of respondents remain in the state upon graduation. Thus far, the program and its students have achieved a 100 percent pass rate on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).

Students in the program complete a rigorous 24-month program, primarily studying and training in the recently renovated spaces in the Rackham Building on the EMU campus. Students learn from licensed physicians and physician assistants, as well as guest lecturers from the community.

In year one, students complete 12 months of classes from May through April. Then, in year two, students complete 10 clinical rotations at various required and elective sites during the clinical year. The sites are primarily in Michigan, but occasionally elsewhere, including a recent rotation in Alaska. The degree earned is a Master of Science in Physician Assistant studies.

The EMU PA program consists of a program director, medical director, five faculty members, an administrative associate, a clinical coordinator and part-time instructional and clinical year employees.

The program was recently ranked among the top three in the state of Michigan by U.S. News and World Report in its annual listing of the top graduate programs in the country.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University’s Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University’s website.

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