ASHLAND, Ohio -- Ashland University’s new Physician Assistant Studies program passed a significant milestone en route to its Fall 2021 debut with news that the program has been granted provisional accreditation status by the commission that oversees PA education in the United States. Initial work and program planning began in 2018 to ensure the success of the program.
The first cohort of 24 students will begin the program this fall, attending classes during the first 12 months of the program and clinical rotations the second 12 months in order to earn their Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, according to program director Melissa Irwin.
The first cohort is comprised of students from across the nation who have demonstrated academic success in their undergraduate and postbaccalaureate work in addition to immersing themselves in a variety of direct patient care experiences. In addition, this next generation of health care providers has stepped up and served during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The new PA program at Ashland University affirms our long-term commitment to the health sciences on our campus,” said AU President Dr. Carlos Campo. “Paired with our other acclaimed programs, we are developing an elite status in Ohio and beyond.”
Applications for the Ashland University PA program are submitted through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (https://caspa.liaisoncas.com/) and reviewed/accepted through a rolling admission process. Applications for the 30 seats available in the 2022 cohort will open on April 29. Going forward, cohorts of 36 students will be admitted. In fact, Irwin said, the PA program admissions committee is looking for well-rounded applicants who demonstrate academic success in their undergraduate work and the prerequisite requirements, completion of the Graduate Records Exam, and recommends direct patient care experiences and shadowing hours with a certified physician assistant. A complete list of the 2021-22 PA program admission requirements can be found at https://www.ashland.edu/conhs/majors/master-science-physician-assistant-studies
The program would not have been possible without the financial support of Dwight Schar, the AU alumnus and businessman whose philanthropy is lived out in the Dwight Schar College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
"The University has seen tremendous growth in Health Sciences,” said Schar, a 1964 graduate of what was then Ashland College, “adding the Physician Assistant program offers next-step medical education.” Though he went on from Ashland to pursue a career in real estate, Schar said his family’s interest in the PA program is personal. "At some point in our life,” he said, “a Physician Assistant has cared for a loved one."
“The Physician Assistant curriculum follows in line with medical education models,” Irwin said. It is, she said, “a whole new path for Ashland University” and the University is excited to participate in the development of practice-ready Physician Assistants upon graduation and to serve patients not only locally but nationally. Irwin noted that although there are differences between the PA program and AU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program in their educational and training models, there is shared excitement for the opportunities that are built into the first year of the curriculum to collaborate interprofessional education opportunities with several programs throughout the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
During the first year of the program, students will have lectures and labs on the Ashland campus -- including the new human cadaver lab in Jacobs Hall – and the state-of-the-art simulation center at the AU Schar College of Nursing and Health Sciences campus in Mansfield. The second year consists of nine different rotations of clinical experiences – in internal medicine, family medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, general surgery, behavioral health and women’s health and two electives in specialties of the student’s choosing. Students also will benefit from the ongoing support and collaboration the University has established with health systems in the area.
We are delighted to welcome PA students and educate them to become health care professionals committed to health related practice, leadership and service,” said CONHS Dean Dr. Carrie Keib. “We are grateful to receive provisional accreditation status and very strong support from our healthcare partners and community members."
"Receiving provisional accreditation status validates the intense work of the PA program faculty and leadership in preparing to deliver a superior educational experience,” said AU Provost Dr. Amiel Jarstfer. “We can be confident that the students will complete this program with knowledge and clinical skills to begin practice but more importantly with the humility to continue to learn and to develop as professionals in service to the diversity of patients they will help."
Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) offers each of its student constituencies The Ashland Promise, including “teaching students how to think, not what to think”. Committed to affordability, the University now offers incoming residential freshman the Tuition Relief Scholarship, as well as a variety of new forms of financial assistance for both new and continuing students. ###