Lawrence Technological University announced that it will launch a two-year master’s degree program in physician assistant studies in its Fall 2022 semester, pending achieving Accreditation-Provisional status from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).
LTU anticipates achieving Accreditation-Provisional status at the March 2022 ARC-PA meeting.
The program will be offered in the LTU College of Arts and Sciences, with clinical experience offered predominantly through LTU’s ongoing partnership with Ascension Michigan, the non-profit health care and hospital system.
LTU has hired a director for the program, Aimee Lamb, PA-C. Her career path includes helping to develop a physician assistant program in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. She also worked as a physician assistant for Sinai Grace Hospital, the Detroit Medical Center, and several private physician practices, working primarily in underserved urban and rural areas. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Eastern Michigan University and a Master of Medical Science physician assistant degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. Most recently, she was an assistant professor of physician assistant studies at the University of Detroit Mercy.
Lawrence Tech has also hired three faculty members who will be starting in January, as well as a program coordinator and a medical director for the program, who have already begun work at LTU.
Lamb said she joined the program because LTU “has such an amazing reputation for innovation and educational excellence,” as well as the university’s relationship with Ascension Michigan.
Physician assistants are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal health care provider. PAs are educated at the master’s degree level, with entry to PA programs requiring a bachelor’s degree that includes courses in basic and behavioral sciences. LTU’s program will be an intensive, 24-month, year-around program.
PA programs are modeled on a medical school curriculum that combines classroom and experiential training, requiring more than 1,500 hours of clinical rotations in medical and surgical disciplines.
Due to the retirement of many doctors and limitations in the capacity of medical schools, there is rising demand for physician assistants. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of PAs to grow 31 percent between 2018 and 2028, a rate much faster than the average for most occupations. And U.S. News and World Report ranks physician assistant No. 3 on its list of 100 Best Jobs for 2020, and has been in the top five for decades. The median salary for PAs is currently $110,000 a year.
ARC-PA Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students, if fully implemented as planned, appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet ARC-PA standards, or when a program holding that status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first cohort of students. The program will not commence if provisional accreditation is not received. If students have been accepted and paid a deposit, this will be fully refunded in the event that provisional accreditation is not received.
Lamb said adding the PA program is “part of an ongoing effort by LTU to address the healthcare needs of Southeast Michigan.” Srini Kambhambpati, dean of the LTU College of Arts and Sciences, said the university is considering adding other healthcare education programs in the future. LTU added a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 2017.
Kambhambpati said Ascension will be involved in developing the program’s curriculum and will offer its hospitals and laboratories for clinical rotations for second-year PA students.
David Svinarich, vice president of research and academic affairs at Ascension Michigan, noted that the new PA program is a natural progression from the successful LTU-Ascension nursing program partnership.
Svinarich said that while Ascension “has physician assistant students at a number of our hospitals getting training, this is the first time in Ascension Michigan that we have collaborated in developing a program.”
Svinarich said Lamb “brings a wealth of experience, and has looked at programs around the country,” and is crafting the program to reflect best practices of PA programs around the world. He added that while the program will be run largely out of Ascension Providence Hospital, LTU PA students would be able to get clinical experiences throughout the Michigan Ascension network.
Svinarich said the health system saw several reasons to establish the program. First, Ascension has a history in health education—with many residency and fellowship programs, and Providence Hospital once ran its own nursing school. Second, there’s increased emphasis on mid-level providers in health care due to cost concerns. Third, there’s a looming shortage of doctors and other healthcare providers. “For those reasons and others, it made sense to establish this program,” he said.
For more information on LTU’s physician assistant graduate program, visit www.ltu.edu/arts_sciences/naturalsciences/pa-master.asp. The page will be updated with new information as the program continues its development.