It’s one of the fastest-growing careers in healthcare with no signs of slowing down. Physician assistants were ranked as the No. 1 profession by U.S. News and World Report in 2021, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the field will grow 31% from 2020 to 2030.
Physician assistants earn a master’s degree and are licensed to diagnose and treat illnesses and diseases, prescribe medicine and perform medical procedures. They are trained as generalists so they don’t have to specialize in one certain area of medicine and work in collaboration with doctors in places like hospitals, operating rooms, medical clinics, and outpatient settings.
In May, the inaugural Physician Assistant Studies class will begin at Middle Tennessee State University.
“Our program, what’s being built here, is going to be special. I think the small class size makes it more of a family-oriented environment, which is conducive to learning because of the amount of personalized instruction,” Director of Didactic Education Dr. Jason Huddleston said.
With total program tuition and fees estimated at $65,722 for in-state residents, MTSU’s PA program will be the least expensive in Tennessee.
Students in the 27-month-long program will complete 108 credit hours with an emphasis on primary care medicine and clinical methods.
Twelve months of supervised clinical practice experiences are built into the curriculum, and consist of clinical rotations in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, surgery, behavioral health and emergency medicine.
“One of the things that sets the MTSU PA Studies program apart is our focus on the provision of healthcare in rural areas and underserved communities. We’re working on clinical rotations that will afford our students the opportunities to go, learn and participate in the care of rural and underserved areas, hopefully attracting them to careers there after graduation,” Huddleston said.
Sohil Patel, the first student accepted into MTSU’s PA program grew up in what he describes as a “highly underserved rural town.” He’s now looking forward to giving back to communities that need it most.
“The availability and access to primary medical care are critical in living a long and healthy lifestyle. However, people living in rural or underserved communities often suffer from multiple barriers in achieving this basic care… I, myself, have experienced some of these barriers while growing up in a rural town in southeast Georgia. As a PA, it is only fitting, and my duty, to give back to these communities by serving as a primary care provider and health educator to alleviate some of the obstacles,” Patel said.
Physician Assistant programs are accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA). The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Middle Tennessee State University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University.
Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.
Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class. The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at http://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation-history-middle-tennessee-state-university/.