Inaugural class of UMKC School of Medicine Physician Assistants begins courses

Members of the School of Medicine's inaugural class of the Master of Medical Science - Physician Assistant program gather for a group photograph following orientation on Jan. 10.
Members of the School of Medicine’s inaugural class of the Master of Medical Science – Physician Assistant program gather for a group photograph following orientation on Jan. 10.

A group of 14 students are part of the inaugural class of the School of Medicine’s new Master of Medical Science-Physician Assistant program that kicked off its first classroom activities on Tuesday, Jan 21, with lectures in anatomy and ethics.

A joint student orientation with this year’s incoming class of Master of Science in Anesthesia students on Jan. 10 covered information from the Office of Student Affairs covering financial aid and other resources. Students later broke out into individual meetings covering program specific information.

School of Medicine Dean Betty Drees, M.D., addressed the two classes during the orientation session.

“As time goes on, I think it’s critical for us to have these programs in the medical school because with the changes in the health care delivery system, more and more health care is going to be done in teams, not by individuals. And making sure that we have education programs here for the whole team to meet the workforce needs in our own state is really critically important. I think you will see in your careers that what you do will become increasingly in demand as we go to a more team-based approach to health care.”

The Physician Assistant program received provisional accreditation status from the Accreditation Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant in September. Provisional status indicates that the plans and resource allocation for the proposed program appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA standards if fully implemented as planned. Provisional accreditation does not ensure subsequent accreditation status and is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

Kathie Ervie, M.P.A.S., P.A.-C., serves as program director and Beverly Graves, M.D., ’83, is the program’s medical director. Two additional faculty members joined the program in November. Holli Paulk, M.B.A., M.P.A.S., assistant teaching professor, serves as the program’s clinical coordinator and is involved in curriculum development, lectures and clinical instruction. Brad Dirks, M.Ed., P.A.-C., also an assistant teaching professor, is involved in curriculum development and didactic instruction.

The School received nearly 100 applications to be part of its first MMS-PA class and about 40 were interviewed. At least 80 percent of the class each year is expected to come from the instate application pool. The program is looking to accept up to 20 students for its second class in 2015, Ervie said.

Class lectures for the PA program will begin on Jan. 21, primarily in a third-floor classroom of the medical school and students will begin early clinical rotations and patient interactions shortly thereafter at Truman Medical Center, Saint Luke’s Hospital, the Kansas City Health Department and other area clinics.

The Anesthesiologist Assistant program began in 2008 with an inaugural class of four students. The program has since graduated 24 Anesthesiologist Assistants and will celebrate its fifth graduating class this May. It accepted 13 students into the program this year.

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