BOT approves Physician Assistant Program at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine

The USF Board of Trustees approved plans March 21 to establish a new master’s degree program in Physician Assistant Studies at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.  USF hopes to launch the two-year program in 2015, with an accreditation site visit in early 2014.

The approval is an important step forward in helping address the state’s increasing shortage of primary care practitioners.  The USF program expects to eventually enroll up to 50 to 60 PA students a year.

The University of Florida currently offers the only public university master’s-level physician assistant (PA) program in Florida.

“The state of Florida already recognizes the critical need for more PAs in the workforce” said Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, dean of the Morsani College of Medicine and CEO of USF Health. “We already have strong interest from our own USF undergraduate students in physician assistant programs, but in the past we’ve had to send these highly qualified students to other programs in Florida.”

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USF Health physician assistant Larry Collins, PA-C, ATC, assistant professor of orthopaedics and sports medicine.

That’s about to change.

 “We’ve developed a plan for a program that we feel will rapidly become recognized as a national leader for its innovative approach,” Dr. Klasko said. “This program will be a great addition to our health offerings and is a natural philosophic fit for our commitment to interprofessional education and interdisciplinary cooperation.”

USF two-year program will be a few months shorter than some other PA programs in the state, focusing the first year on didactic learning and the second on clinical education.  The program will feature elective courses in mental health management and technical and procedural-based interventions. It will build upon USF Health’s already strong foundations in medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, nursing and public health curriculums.

Alicia Monroe, MD, vice dean for Educational Affairs at the Morsani College of Medicine; Gretchen Koehler, PhD, assistant dean for academic administration; and Larry Collins, PA-C, ATC, an assistant professor of orthopaedics and sports medicine, were instrumental in helping to develop the new program. Collins will be one of the PA faculty members.

David Kotun, PA-C, EdD, administrative director of clinical education for physician assistant programs at Nova Southeastern University and a former faculty member at USF’s medical school, has been selected as the program director for the USF PA program.

Physician assistants are trained to practice medicine as part of a team with physicians. They provide a wide range of healthcare services, including diagnosing and treating illnesses and injuries, ordering and interpreting tests, assisting in surgery, and providing preventive care.

Photo by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications
Anne DeLotto Baier contributed to this article