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K-State Today

May 23, 2019

Physician assistant program to begin in 2021 at Kansas State University

Submitted by College of Human Ecology

The College of Human Ecology, to become the College of Health and Human Sciences on June 1, 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, Betty L. Tointon 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."

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 M.D., medical director; Sujatha Prakash, program coordinator; Candice Tucker, P.A., clinical director; and Bradley Dirks P.A., academic director.

"The commitment to establish a new physician assistant 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," Ferdinand-Jacob said. "The future of healthcare is projected to be collaborative and diverse, with different professions working in teams to provide patient-centered care."

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. Physician assistant 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 K-State physician assistant program will have a great impact on the health of our communities," Ferdinand-Jacob said. "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 nonbiological factors that impact patient outcomes as they develop individualized treatment plans and implement strategies for prevention and control of chronic diseases."

Renovations are currently underway to provide adequate space for the program, which will be in Mary and Carl Ice Hall on the Manhattan campus.

To learn more about the physician assistant program, please contact Susan Watt, health professions advisor, at swatt@k-state.edu.