FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2014
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Contact: Natalie Lester
65 students earn master’s degrees
Today, 65 physician assistant students – the sixth class to graduate from South College – received their master’s degrees at the Tennessee Theatre.
A traditional white coat ceremony also honored 72 students in the Physician Assistant Studies class of 2015 who have completed instructional coursework and will move into the clinical study phase of the program.
“As educators, this is the day that matters the most when we celebrate the success of these 137 physician assistant students – 65 graduates and 72 rising members of the next class,” Steve South, president of South College, said. “The South College administration, faculty and staff are very proud of the accomplishments of each student.”
The graduates will enter the workforce at a time when physician assistants are in high demand.
“With the country facing a physician shortage, the PA profession is expected to grow 39 percent by 2020,” said Ken Harbert, dean of the South College School of Physician Assistant Studies. “This makes it the second-fastest growing health care career in the next decade.”
This relatively new profession has gained traction as health care leaders seek ways to make high-quality medical care more affordable, accessible and efficient.
The curriculum for the Physician Assistant Studies program is modeled on a medical school curriculum, with a combination of classroom learning and more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations.
“South College’s competency-based, 27-month Physician Assistant Studies’ curriculum prepares them well for the daily challenges they will face,” Harbert said. “Our students are proficient in assessment and management of patients in outpatient settings, as well as inpatient health care institutions.”
At the commencement ceremony, graduates receive their Master of Health Science degree, qualifying them to take the national licensure exam through The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). A nonprofit organization established in 1975, it is the only certifying organization for physician assistants in the United States. Currently over 100,000 physician assistants are licensed to practice in the country.
“We are pleased that our students consistently outpace the national average in pass rates for certification,” Harbert said. “Many of our students already have jobs upon graduation locally and throughout the country, including two who will be practicing in the U.S. armed forces.”
About South College
South College is a private institution accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to offer programs at the doctorate, masters, baccalaureate, and associate levels. For more information about the Physician Assistant Studies program or other South College academic programs, visit http://www.southcollegetn.edu.