Sullivan University broke new education ground when it launched Louisville’s only Physician Assistant (PA) Program in 2014. For Program Director Steven Gaskins, it’s been about the success of the students from the start.
“Every graduate of our first two classes has passed their Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination and are eligible for licensure in each of the 50 states,” he says. And they’re finding careers in locations across the country after graduation.
One essential component for career success as a PA is program accreditation, which is granted by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Although the process is voluntary for the program, it is an eligibility requirement for the national certifying exam administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physicians Assistants and for state licensure.
Initially, the ARC-PA granted Accreditation-Provisional to Sullivan University’s PA Program, but after only four years it has been granted Accreditation-Continued status. This is given to programs that have successfully built on the standards set forth by the ARC-PA and have completed the three stages of Accreditation-Provisional – Initial, Monitoring and Final.
“Achieving this milestone serves as an acknowledgement of the diligence and commitment of the faculty and staff of Sullivan University Physician Assistant Program to providing a high-quality education experience for our students and it is an affirmation of the Sullivan University’s sound decision to pursue a Physician Assistant program for Louisville,” said Gaskins.
It’s also a sound decision for students who want a career as a medical professional. Physician assistants practice medicine under the supervision of physicians. They are authorized and trained to make medical decisions and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services, from physical exams to diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. PAs also can write prescriptions in all states.
Through Sullivan University’s two-year program, students earn a Master of Science in Physician Assistant. In the first year, the focus is on biomedical, clinical, and behavioral sciences, along with courses in physical diagnosis and critical thinking. The second year emphasizes applying that knowledge through a series of clinical rotations.
Before graduation, students also must complete a Capstone Project, a formal Grand Rounds presentation to the Sullivan University community that includes in-depth information of a medical patient case that the student encountered during his or her clinical rotations. This comprehensive project helps measure both critical thinking and practical skills and evaluate how well the student has integrated both the knowledge and the skills they’ve learned throughout the program.
Although many prospective students have earned a bachelor degree in a science or health field, it isn’t required, and students are admitted with a variety of undergraduate majors. Regardless of their background and experience, the program director has seen many exceptional applicants.
“It is inspiring to see the caliber of students applying to our program, many candidates already hold master degrees in complementary areas,” notes Gaskin.
You can find out more on Sullivan’s Physician Assistant Program website.