Eastern Michigan welcomes its inaugural group of future physician assistants, which begins graduate classes this week in renovated Rackham facility

Degree named one of the ‘Best Master’s Degree for Jobs’ by Forbes

by Pamela Young, Published May 08, 2014

YPSILANTI – The inaugural class of future physician assistants started classes this week at Eastern Michigan University to prepare for a field Forbes Magazine calls one of the Best Master’s Degrees for Jobs.

The new 24-month physician assistant (PA) program currently has twenty master’s-level students enrolled. One of only six accredited PA programs in Michigan, EMU’s program is housed in Rackham Hall, a renovated historic building in the center of the Eastern Michigan campus.

Eastern Michigan's inaugural class of future physician assistants

"With the aging population and imminent health care change in our country, it's projected that there will be many more patients and a need for more health care providers," said Jay Peterson, director of the new program. "PAs can help meet this need for cost effective, high quality health care that is provided by an interdisciplinary health care team."

The curriculum will focus on primary care, with emphasis on critical thinking and ethical decision-making, and students will learn to work in tandem with other health professionals. The program’s clinical educational collaboration with St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor will involve a high fidelity simulation center, a human anatomy cadaver laboratory and clinical rotations.

The Rackham facility also has an advanced lecture-style classroom, small group meeting rooms, rooms to practice clinical skills, a computer lab for testing and a suite of primary care, medical office-style examination rooms. Cameras are available to evaluate students’ communication skills.

"Geographically, Eastern Michigan is set up perfectly, because students will have access to all types of patients, ranging from urban and suburban to rural areas,” Peterson said. “Our program will be devoted to primary care, where PAs can best impact the lives of the community.”

The newly renovated Rackham building is a historic structure on Eastern Michigan's campus

The PA profession developed in the 1960s due to a shortage of primary care physicians, Peterson said. Now, these professionals practice medicine in all 50 states and are an integral part of the medical team. Physician assistant positions can be found in clinics, private practices and hospitals - any place where physicians and physician assistants are needed. There are approximately 3,500 licensed PAs in Michigan.

Peterson advises prospective students to plan for this career. That means taking all preadmission classes, such as anatomy, physiology and general chemistry, among other requirements.

For more information, go to the College of Health and Human Services physician assistant program homepage or email chhs_paprogram@emich.edu or call 734-487-2843.


Pamela Young

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