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Coming soon: FGCU medical program

A Master of Physician Assistant Studies program is on the horizon for FGCU.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a physician assistant is trained to examine patients, diagnose illnesses and injuries and provide treatment — all under the supervision of surgeons and physicians.

“The proposed Master’s of Physician Assistant Studies program will provide students with the entry-level education to become a physician assistant,” said Robert Hawkes, founding program director. “The masters-level program will prepare students for practice as physician assistants assistants and eligible for certification through the National Commission on Certification of Physicians Assistants.”

This program will be delivered using the resources that exist in Marieb Hall, which has a lot of the resources needed for the MPAS.

This master’s study is going to start off small.

“During the first three years of the program, only 20 students will be enrolled each year — it’s a two-year program,” said Dr. Mitch Cordova, dean and professor at the college of Health Professions and Social Work.

“Therefore, at most during this time, there will only be 40 total students in the program at one time. If the program decided to enroll more students per year after three years, the total number of students added will not be significantly higher.”

Hawkes also said there will be a new clinical coordinator and two faculty hired to teach the concentration of the PA program. Existing FGCU faculty are anticipated to teach core science programs such as anatomy and physiology.

Pooneh Nazari, a sophomore biology major, said she would definitely consider the program in the future.

“I think the medical programs are limited here and if the school added that it would open up a lot more options for students,” Nazari said, “less people would have to transfer to other places.”

There is still some time before this new program is expected to start.

“FGCU is seeking Provisional Accreditation Review Commissions on Education for the Physician Assistant,” Hawkes said.

ARC-PA is the agency that defines the standards for PA education and evaluates the PA education programs in the United States. FGCU has a site visit scheduled with ARC-PA for October 2016. Depending on the outcome of this visit, FGCU anticipates the program starting in June 2017.

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