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The PA Will Now See You


By: Roxanna Ross

The Methodist University Physician Assistant Program was established in 1996. Now in its 19th year, the PA Program has a well-established track record of educating high quality mid-level medical practitioners.

Nearly thirty-five years earlier and two hours up the road in Durham, the late Dr. Eugene A. Stead at Duke University Medical Center assembled the first class of PA’s who were all former U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsmen. Dr. Stead founded the program in hopes to give the same advanced, condensed medical training that the military receives, to the masses. To this day, the Duke University PA program remains the top in the country.

Since its inception, its focus has been to help alleviate the primary care provider shortage nationally and for Methodist University’s program, its purpose is to specifically supply PA’s to the underserved areas of North Carolina. The PA Program has continued to grow in reputation and has emerged as one of the premier programs in the country.

The PA Program is housed in three state-of-the-art facilities – the anatomy lab, medical lecture hall and the academic building. The new 34,000 square foot Thomas R. McLean Health Sciences Building is located near the PA Program and will provide classroom and laboratory space for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program when the doors open in early 2016.

“Our students deserve recognition for their hard work and dedication to learning how to give exceptional patient care. The PA Program faculty and staff are proud to have been a part of their education and join with them in celebrating their success,” said PA Program Director Christina Beard. “We look forward to the contributions these new healthcare providers will make to the local, national and international community.”

There are currently 116 PA students enrolled in Methodist University’s PA Program. MU’s PA graduates frequently have a high pass rate on the PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE), with a five-year, first time pass rate average of 97% versus the national average of 93%. The computer-based, multiple-choice exam assesses basic medical and surgical knowledge. Passing the PANCE is required to become a certified PA.

“Methodist University PA students consistently score above the national average in the PANCE exam, thus demonstrating the exceptional quality of our program,” said President Ben E. Hancock Jr.  “An institution that supports a culture of excellence by providing signature facilities and programs produces signature health care professionals.

The Masters of Medical Science Degree in Physician Assistant Studies at Methodist University is accredited at the national level by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistants (ARC-PA) and is recognized as a very high quality and competitive program. The program, which started at a bachelor's level program, began in 1996. Ninety-eight percent of the graduates are practicing physician assistants in a variety of medical settings and specialties. The program’s graduates make up 75 percent of the over 2,000 PA’s in North Carolina.