UND Physician Assistant Program To Present New Class With White Coats

Fifty-five health professionals begin the clinical portion of their studies next week to earn the Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The individuals in this class come from a wide variety of professional health-care disciplines, which through class interaction will strengthen each student’s ability to return to his or her rural clinical site as a well-rounded primary care provider.

The PA Program admits health professionals who have years of experience working as nurses, respiratory therapists, radiology technologists, paramedics, military health-care providers and related professions. This group averages eight years of previous professional health-care experience upon matriculation into the program.

Enrolled students come from throughout the United States, from Washington to Florida, but this particular class is very regional, with nearly 60percent of the students from the tristate area of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.  Students range in age from 25 to 58 years, with an average age of 33; the class includes 25 men and 30 women.

The White Coat Ceremony is at 2 p.m., on Jan. 25 in the Reed T. Keller Auditorium at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences.  Eric Johnson, M.D., medical director of the Physician Assistant Program, will present the keynote address, focusing on the role of the physician assistant in primary care and the importance of professionalism and compassion in clinical practice. Welcome remarks will be given by Gwen W. Halaas, M.D., M.B.A., SMHS senior associate dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs, and Wayne Swisher, Ph.D., interim dean of the UND Graduate School. Closing remarks will be given by Robert Beattie, M.D., chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the SMHS.

“The presentation of the white coat is symbolic of the new profession the students are entering,” said Jeanie McHugo, Ph.D., program director. The coats will be worn by students through the clinical phase of their training and denote their involvement with the Physician Assistant Program at UND.

Students spend their first four weeks in Grand Forks before returning to their home communities, where most of their training will take place under the supervision of physician-preceptors. Over the next two years, they will return to UND for several weeks at different junctures for education and training.

For a list of students, please visit http://bit.ly/UZ4ILf.

For more information, please contact the PA program at 701.777.2344, or visit www.med.und.edu/physicianassistant/.

Denis MacLeod
assistant director, Office of Alumni and Community Relations
UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences