Bethel University’s Physician Assistant Program was recognized by the Rural Health Research Center (RHRC) as a top 15 PA program that graduated proportionately more PAs who practice in rural settings. Bethel’s PA program was #6 on the list in the report that was published in February 2016.
According to the RHRC, “employing more physician assistants (PAs) is often proposed as an important part of the solution to rural primary care shortages in the United States.”
The same article goes on to say that the PA profession emerged in the early 1970s in part to address health care disparities and predicted primary care workforce shortages, especially in rural and underserved communities.
“To us, this is significant that Bethel University is included in this particular top 15 list,” said Bethel President Dr. Walter Butler. “Stepping into PA positions that specifically meet the health care shortages in rural communities speaks to who we are here at Bethel. Finding ways to serve using our skills and our talents – it’s a lifestyle we encourage with our graduates.” Statistics provided by the RHRC showed that, as of 2008, only 15 percent of PAs were practicing in rural communities. This was compared to 27 percent in 1981.
The same report shows that almost half (45 percent) of Bethel University PA graduates have taken jobs in rural locations.
“It’s very rewarding to think that our Physician Assistant Program is contributing to the well-being of rural Americans,” said President Butler. “I applaud our PA Program faculty and staff and our students for bringing our program to the place where it is. We are producing quality graduates. It’s something to be very proud of.”
According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, PAs are nationally certified and state licensed medical professionals. PAs practice medicine on healthcare teams with physicians and other providers. They practice and prescribe medication in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the majority of the U.S. territories and the uniformed services.
Bethel University’s Physician Assistant Program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). A Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree is conferred upon completion of the 27-month educational program. The didactic year curriculum follows the NCCPA blueprint in regard to organ systems and task areas. Following the didactic year, students spend 15 months in clinical rotations with qualified preceptors learning “hands-on” medicine.