University of South Florida

USF Health welcomes newest Physician Assistant Program students

The USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Physician Assistant Program class of 2024.

Leaders from USF Health and the Morsani College of Medicine welcomed 50 new students representing Physician Assistant Program class of 2024 during a small ceremony Sept. 16.

The program’s sixth cohort of students, who officially started their classwork in May, make up the most academically competitive class in program history.

The master of ceremonies for the event was Todd Wills, MD, assistant dean and program director for the Physician Assistant Program.  He spoke to the students about what they can expect when they pursue their degree at USF Health and the symbolic meaning of receiving their first white coats.

Todd Wills, MD, assistant dean and Physician Assistant Program director.

“One of the things that make USF such a great place to pursue a PA degree is the commitment of our organization to interdisciplinary education across our colleges of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and public health.  This is well-reflected in the rising reputation of USF’s health programs over the past decade,” said Dr. Wills.  “Today, you wear a coat which sends a signal to your family, friends, community and most importantly, the patients for whom you are preparing to provide care.”

Charles Lockwood, MD, MHCM, USF Health executive vice president and MCOM dean, was the keynote speaker of the event.  He spoke to the audience about the increasingly-demanding role physician assistants play in health care teams for years to come.

Charles Lockwood, MD, MHCM, USF Health executive vice president and Morsani College of Medicine dean.

“You are pursuing one of the fastest growing careers in medicine and you will be on the frontlines of patient care. You will play ever-increasing, indispensable roles as an integral part of the patient’s health care team, said Dr. Lockwood.  “I am confident that all of you will excel in this next stage of your own professional development.”

Small groups of students stood up in front of their friends and family for faculty members to put their first white coats over their shoulders, symbolizing the official start of their commitment to patient care, life-long learning, and making life better in their communities.

Larry Collins, MPAS, PA-C, ATC, associate program director, led the students in reciting the Oath of Commitment, marking the end of the ceremony and the beginning of their health care journey.

Fun facts about the Class of 2024:

  • Average GPA: 3.81 – highest in program history
  • 1,056 total applicants for 50 spots: 5% chance of acceptance.
  • Officially started class work May 22, 2022
  • First fully in-person class since COVID 19 pandemic.

More images from the ceremony:

Story and photos by Freddie Coleman, USF Health Communications and Marketing

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