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Healthy Times - Fall 2005

Five-Year BS/MS PA track to begin, fall 2006

In Fall Term 2006, University of Detroit Mercy will offer a five-year BS/MS track in addition to its current Master’s of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) studies. The five-year accelerated track will allow a select number of highly qualified, entering freshmen to earn early acceptance in the graduate PA Program.

"Physician assistants are a key provider in addressing access to primary care and especially meeting the primary care needs of a growing aging population in our country," says Suzanne Warnimont-York, associate professor and chair, Physician Assistant Program. "National data indicates a physician shortage is emerging and by 2020, the deficit is projected to be as great as 200,000 physicians. This accelerated program will allow students interested in the field to be practicing medicine as a PA in less time and with a lower financial commitment."

The BS/MS track will include three years of undergraduate studies toward a Bachelor of Science in Biology and two years of master’s level studies for a master of science degree. The undergraduate curriculum consists of medically related science courses (biology, chemistry, physics), social sciences (psychology), along with all the components of the core curriculum and general education requirements for a bachelor’s degree. This phase also includes pre-requisite introductory courses related to health care and a required co-operative education component in the health care field that students complete in the second and third summers of the program.

During the fourth and fifth years, students take graduate courses in the medical sciences and educational experiences, which address the physical, interpersonal and psychosocial needs of patients. Also during the fifth year, students acquire medical expertise through a broad range of intensive clinical rotations, community health education and health projects with medically underserved communities. Each student completes the program with a preceptorship in primary care medicine.

Admission requirements are rigorous for this program with enrollment capped at 35 students per year. But interest is high with physician assistant becoming one of the fastest growing health care professions today.