PA Studies expands to Boone location
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Appalachian State University have partnered to expand Wake Forest School of Medicine's physician assistant program and create a new cohort of students in Boone, NC. A primary objective of the distant campus is to train primary care physician assistants to help address the critical need for health care providers in western North Carolina.
Announcing the WFBMC-Appalachian State University partnership: Dr. John McConnell, CEO, WFBMC; Dr. Edward Abraham, Dean, Wake Forest School of Medicine; L. Gail Curtis, Vice Chair of PA Studies; Dr. Frederick K. Whitt, Dean, College of Health Sciences, Appalachian State University; Dr. Reamer Bushardt, Chair of PA Studies; and Dr. Kenneth Peacock, Chancellor, Appalachian State University.
PA Studies' distant campus initially will have 24 students, who will join 64 PA Studies' students at the Winston-Salem campus to attend a month-long basic science leveling block starting in June 2014. After the leveling block, the new cohort of students will move on to nine months of preclinical training on Appalachian State's campus in Boone. Finally, the students will complete a year-long series of required and elective supervised clinical rotations in locations across the region and country. Together with their Winston-Salem classmates, the first cohort of students at the distant campus will graduate in May 2016 with a Master of Medical Science (MMS) degree from Wake Forest School of Medicine.
The Wake Forest physician assistant program uses an innovative curriculum that emphasizes self-inquiry and team-based learning and has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top PA programs in the country. Appalachian State University is a preeminent academic institution with a strong interest in health and wellness transformation. Appalachian's College of Health Sciences was established in 2010 as the university's first new college in 40 years and was developed to help address the health care needs of North Carolina and beyond. It is now the second largest college at Appalachian.
Projected shortages of primary care clinicians pose serious threats to health care access, particularly in rural areas. These underserved counties are the types of locations where the population can directly benefit from physician assistants. To help address the need for physician assistants in underserved communities, the PA Studies' distant campus will target students from the Appalachian region who want to train and work in these underserved areas as well as veterans of the United States military with health-related field experiences.
Joining these two academic institutions in this partnership will expand care to undeserved areas and also be an opportunity to give back to those who served our country. Well-trained military medics have been excellent candidates for physician assistant training since the profession began nearly 50 years ago. Partial funding for this new initiative comes from a three-year, $375,000 grant from the Duke Endowment in Charlotte, NC.