New Physician Assistants Help Ease Health Care Provider Shortage in Rural Illinois
Thirty-five physician assistants officially completed the Physician Assistant Program at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine during a ceremony on Aug. 5, 2017, at SIU Carbondale. The class earned a Master’s of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA).
At the ceremony, the graduating class received their long white coats and certificates signifying completion of the 26-month program. The new physician assistants then gave short white coats to the 40 new physician assistant students.
The new physician assistants of the Class of 2017 and their hometowns include:
Lindsay Blakley of Rochester
Lauren Boente of Carlinville
Erin Browne of Naperville
Joe Bulinski of Rochester
Martha Curtin of Orland Hills and Carbondale
Joeli Diemer of Edmond, Okla.
Brooke Eaves of Jonesboro
Tommy Engle of Detroit, Mich.
Michelle Farazi of Chicago
Colleen Gibbons of Wheaton
Courtney Gregson of Red Bud
Anum Haq of Villa Park
Kalyn Harker of Lebanon, Ind.
Lindsay Helbach of Stevens Point, Wis.
Mallory Lindberg of Carbondale
Erin Miller of Mahomet
Stacy Miller of Jefferson, Wis.
Joe Mork of Yorkville
Philip Pifer of Warsaw, Ind.
Christine Potter of McHenry
Alex Powell of Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Stormi Raines of Brazil, Ind.
Morgan Rakers of New Baden
Maxx Ramirez of Belleville
Julia Sames of Springfield
Mitra Shultz of McLean, Va.
Whitney Stibb of Beaver Dam, Wis.
Jessica Tarragano of Buffalo Grove
Miranda (Teller) Long of Dixon
Elizabeth Vollmer of Libertyville
Morgan Wagner of Urbandale, Iowa
Anna Wheeler of Ramsey
Matthew Woodruff of Mattoon
Meredith Worrall or Charles City, Iowa
Amber Yaddof of Davenport, Iowa
A total of 110 students are currently enrolled in the 26-month program, which takes place on the SIU Carbondale campus. The students gain clinical experiences in Olney, Mattoon, Decatur, Springfield, Quincy, Peoria, Belleville, Champaign and Carbondale.
Eight central and southern Illinois doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who mentored the students throughout the 26-month program were also honored at the ceremony. The Class of 2017 named them “Preceptors of the Year.”
ABOUT PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS
Physician assistants (PAs) 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 employ PAs to practice and prescribe medications. Ranked as the number one job in America by Forbes, USA Today, Glassdoor and the Young Invincibles in 2015, the demand for physician assistants has never been higher. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 30 percent increase in job growth by 2024, only eight years from now.
ABOUT THE SIU PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROGRAM
Established 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 School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program grew from the initial 18 students per cohort in 1997 to 40 students per cohort in the last three years. Don Diemer, DHSc, PA-C, is the program director. Kyaw Naing, MD, PhD, 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 first time board pass rate of 100 percent.
The mission of the PA Program is to prepare health care professionals to provide primary health care to underserved populations in rural and health professional shortage areas and enhance this health care by preparing graduates who are interdependent medical providers, dedicated to both community and the profession.
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