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Physician assistant accreditation secured

  • UMES to welcome 20-member class in August 2020

    Thursday, April 2, 2020
    Tiffany S. Maxwell, DHSc., MSA, PA-C

    The University of Maryland Eastern Shore this week received accreditation confirmation to offer its Physician Assistant program.

    This will allow the University to offer graduate-level courses leading to a physician assistant degree in the coming academic year.

    Based on the review of the program by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA), UMES looks to enroll a cohort of 20 new students in August 2020 with plans to grow the program annually.

    The program will be 28 months in duration and include didactic and experiential education components.  The university will award a Master's of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies to those who successfully complete the program.

    Dr. Tiffany S. Maxwell, program director and department chair, who led the reaffirmation effort for the campus, said, "the university's physician assistant program will be an integral part of the healthcare community by educating the next generation of healthcare providers to serve our local and surrounding communities."

    As the 16th president of UMES, Dr. Heidi M. Anderson made reaffirmation of the PA program an institutional priority.

    "Given that all the counties on the Eastern Shore of Maryland are designated as medically underserved areas and/or Health Professions Shortage Areas, having more physician assistants is vital for our communities," Anderson said.

    Dr. Rondall Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, hired Maxwell, a veteran educator, and tasked her with coordinating the compilation of detailed material the accrediting body required of institutions to prove readiness in preparing competent and compassionate physicians assistants.

    ARC-PA, after receiving the materials, stated it appreciated "the commitment and dedication to quality PA education demonstrated by (UMES') participation in the accreditation process."

    The value of the program has been confirmed by the support of the University System of Maryland's administration, its governing board and Gov. Larry Hogan.

    "Everyone in our community should be excited about this," Anderson said.  "The program graduates will infuse the region with highly trained medical professionals with skills in illness diagnosis, medical treatment prevention and care plans."

    PAs, as they are known professionally, are further able to conduct clinical research and make advancements in medical sciences. The overall contributions of Physician Assistants are many and varied, which can have special value in rural communities and where there are shortages in medical clinics.

    In addition to voicing support for the PA program, elected leaders in Maryland also approved funds to underwrite construction of a healthcare training complex that will enhance all healthcare curricula at UMES.

    Maxwell acknowledged the program will be strengthened by the engagement with the local healthcare community, including Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Atlantic General Hospital, University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, local physicians, physician assistants and other healthcare providers.

    Students in the physician assistant program will complete over 2,000 hours in rotations including family medicine, general surgery and mental health training.  The rigorous course content aligns closely with that of medical school and the program is attractive to students of all career and educational backgrounds.

    A year from now, UMES will be able to enroll an additional 25 students with another 30 to be added in 2022.

    "I am so proud of Dr. Maxwell and Dean Allen," Anderson said.  "They took on this monumental task and got it accomplished in record time.  And it comes just when the nation is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and needing a plethora of healthcare providers."

    For information on the Physician Assistant program at UMES, please see the website: https://www.umes.edu/PA/