School of Medicine develops new Master of Physician Assistant Program
As more businesses settle into northern Nevada, the need for healthcare professionals, which is already lacking, is increasing. University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine is currently in the process of implanting a new Master of Physician Assistant Program to aid in mitigating this lack.
Physician Assistants are trained to examine, diagnose and treat patients in primary care and specialty practices as well as assist in surgeries.
“The primary benefit of becoming a PA as opposed to an MD is the ability to move between different specialties of medicine without returning to higher education,” Brian Lauf, PA-C, the director of the Physician Assistant Program, said in a phone interview with NNBW.
The School of Medicine started accepting applications as of June 1 and will continue to accept them until Sept. 1. The program is scheduled to start May 31, 2017, at the Redfield Campus in south Reno.
Students who are interested in applying to the program are required to have a bachelor’s degree, 2,000 hours of paid clinical patient care, specific class prerequisites and two letters of recommendation.
The new program is designed to reduce the shortage of healthcare providers in northern Nevada, particularly in rural areas.
“One of the forces behind creating the PA program is the need for healthcare professionals in Nevada,” Lauf said.
PA’s do not need to do any additional residencies and are ready to enter the workforce as soon as they finish the 27-month program.
Renown Health is a partner in helping create the new program and have committed $500,000 to help start it.
“We have a strong relationship with Renown and they will be providing clinical sites for PA students to train,” Lauf said.
Prior to creating this program, the closest PA program was in Sacramento, Calif. According to Lauf, there is also a PA program at Touro University Nevada, a private health care institution located in Las Vegas.
The Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents approved the Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree on June 10. The program is now in the process of gaining its Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). They have a site visit scheduled for October 2016. They will not accept students into the program until they are fully accredited.
For more information about the Master of Physician Assistant Program, visit http://medicine.nevada.edu/physician-assistant.
Christal Park Keegan’s professional experience includes working as an attorney for the National Judicial College in Reno and for the Chapman Law Firm in Northern Nevada.