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College of Health and Human Sciences

Physician Assistant program to begin in 2021 at Kansas State University

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The  College of Health and Human Sciences has received approval from the Kansas Board of Regents to officially begin their Master of Science in physician assistant studies program.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 37% increase in physician assistant jobs between 2016 and 2026, compared to a 13% increase in physician jobs. Physician assistants are one of the three primary care providers, recognized by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, along with physicians and nurse practitioners.

Recognizing the primary care provider shortages in the state of Kansas and the outflow of Kansas State University students to professional schools, the college began to explore launching the physician assistant program in 2017. Currently, Wichita State University has the only physician assistant program in the state.

“We are excited to receive the final approval from the Kansas Board of Regents and to continue to develop this program,” said John Buckwalter, dean of the college. “Gwen Ferdinand-Jacob and her team can now continue to ready the program for an accreditation visit in 2020 and welcoming their first class in January 2021.”

Gwen Ferdinand-Jacob began as the program director in 2018 after serving as program director of Bethel University’s physician assistant program in Tennessee. Along with developing curriculum and the program infrastructure, she has already recruited additional personnel including: Autumn Caycedo MD, medical director; Sujatha Prakash, program coordinator; Candice Tucker PA, clinical director; and Bradley Dirks PA, academic director.

“The commitment to establish a new PA program reflects Kansas State University’s commitment to fostering excellent teaching, research and service that will develop a highly skilled and educated citizenry necessary to advance the well-being of Kansas, the nation and the international community, said Ferdinand-Jacob. “The future of healthcare is projected to be collaborative and diverse, with different professions working in teams to provide patient-centered care.  The K-State Physician Assistant program will have a great impact on the health of our communities.  Our graduates will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to advocate for patients, and reduce disparities in access to health care.  Equipped with knowledge of the social determinants of health, our graduates will assess biological and non-biological factors that impact patient outcomes, as they develop individualized treatment plans, and implement strategies for prevention and control of chronic diseases.”

The physician assistant program will be located in Mary and Carl Ice hall on the Manhattan campus. Renovations are currently underway to provide adequate space for the program. The 27-month, full-time graduate program, leading to a master’s degree in physician assistant studies, consists of three semesters of classroom instruction, followed by 15 months of clinical training. PA students will complete approximately 2,000 hours of hands-on clinical experiences, through 11 rotations at various clinics and hospitals across the State of Kansas, and beyond.

The program staff are currently working towards accreditation, with a scheduled site visit in 2020.

To learn more about the physician assistant program, please contact Sujatha Prakash, program coordinator, at sujatha@k-state.edu.

This article was posted on Thursday, May 23, 2019, and is filed under College News.