SIU Physician Assistant Program Graduation Held


August 5, 2013

SIU Physician Assistant Program Graduation Held

Southern Illinois University School of Medicine graduated 27 physician assistants from its Physician Assistant Program on August 3, 2013, at SIU Carbondale. The students received a Masters of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA) at the program’s annual White Coat Ceremony, marking the students’ completion of the program.

“Physician assistants are one of the fastest growing occupations today,” said Don Diemer, program director. Dr. Kyaw Naing, associate director of Outreach Services at the SIU Carbondale Family Medicine Residency Program is the medical director. The SIU program has a five-year average certification rate of 98 percent.

The new physician assistants are:

Krista L. Chin, Lindsay C. Dubnicek, Thomas E. Dust, Amanda Endrizzi, Monica L. Everett, Alex W. Frantz, Britney Nicole Hall, Michael J. Heise, Colleen B. Kemp, Sarah Anne Knapczyk, Erin E. Knapp, Eric Quentin Miller, Kelli K. Nowak, Benjamin Allen Nathan Rayhorn, Lauren Denise Rennie, Shanel Rhodes, Megan Mary-Jean Skolasinski, Jacquelyn M. Spence, Meghan Sreniawski, Krista N. Stewart, Shanna Michelle Strieker, Mary Katherine Nuessen Stuart, Elizabeth K. Sweitzer, Heather N. Thomas, Brett Wassink, Nicolette L. Weeke and Marty C. Wilson.

A total of 95 students are currently enrolled in the 27-month program, which takes place on the SIU Carbondale campus. The students gain clinical experiences in Olney, Mattoon, Decatur, Springfield, Quincy, Peoria and the Carbondale area.

Physician assistants work under the supervision of physicians in all areas of medicine to perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret lab tests, perform procedures, assist in surgery, provide patient education and counseling and make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes. All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow PAs to practice and prescribe medications. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 83,600 physician assistants were employed in 2010. It predicts a 30 percent increase in job growth by 2020.

Since it began in 1997, the SIU program uses small-group, problem-based learning, teaching and assessment using simulated patients, much like the medical school. Clinical rotations in the second year prepare students in a medical setting in clinical sites around Illinois, particularly in the south and central areas of the state.

The SIU Physician Assistant Program, formerly a collaborative program of the SIUC College of Applied Sciences and Arts and the School of Medicine, became a division of the Department of Family & Community Medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in 2012.

The PA program has graduated 349 students since 1997. In 2010, the program earned the maximum seven-year accreditation by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.

Established in 1970, SIU School of Medicine’s mission is to assist the people of central and southern Illinois in meeting their health care needs through education, patient care, research and service to the community. 

Media Contacts

Karen Carlson,
SIU, 217-545-3854

Cindy Davidsmeyer,
SCI, 217-545-3837


Phone 217-545-8000
P.O. Box 19620
Springfield, IL 62794-9620
The mission of SIU School of Medicine is to assist the citizens of central and southern Illinois in meeting their health-care needs through education, patient care, research and service to the community.


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