January 6, 2023
Ursuline College kicked off the new year by welcoming the inaugural class of students for its Physician Assistant program. Selected from a pool of nearly 500 applicants, 30 future healthcare professionals arrived on campus Thursday for their two-day orientation coming as far away as California, Iowa, Texas, and Florida. Classes for this intensive two-year advanced degree program officially start on Monday, January 9.
“More than 55% of our students are from Northeast Ohio,” states program director Ryan Adler, DMSc, EdD, PA-C, CHSE. “Our hope is that many of our graduates will stay in area, provide for the needs of our underserved populations especially in primary care, and contribute to Cleveland’s continued growth as a national healthcare leader.”
Approximately one-third of the incoming class is representative of diverse populations, above the national average of 19.8% percent for this field. “Increasing representation in our diverse communities builds trust and improves patient-centered care.” notes Dr. Adler.
PAs are licensed clinicians with a master’s degree. They are rigorously educated and trained healthcare professionals. PAs are dedicated to improving access to care and transforming health and wellness through patient-centered, team-based medical practice. They provide care to all ages, in every medical specialty and setting. Responsibilities of PAs include performing medical histories, physical examinations, and ordering diagnostic tests to make diagnoses and develop treatment plans. Employment of physician assistants is projected to grow by 31 percent from 2019 to 2029 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
First-year PA student and Cleveland transplant from Compton, California Michael Brown describes himself as a class clown who didn’t think much about his future. He notes, “As I became older and continued to challenge myself in school, I realized that my relationship with God and the people I surround myself with plays a big part into how I feel about myself and my goals and aspirations in life.”
Prior to starting the Ursuline PA program, Brown was a Retina Ophthalmology Technician and Physical Therapist aide, but the 25-year-old wanted to know more about the medical field and its ever-changing advances. “I also want to be the highlight of my patient’s day and show little Black boys and girls they can do anything they set their mind to.”
His classmate Jasleen Kaur Mann was born and raised in California after her parents with roots in Punjab, India immigrated to the United States. The 22-year-old UC Davis graduate was a Medication Technician and spent a lot of her free time volunteering at children’s events at her local Sikh Gurdwara Sahib—a Sikh religion place of worship. She described the PA profession has the perfect balance between playing a leadership role in one's medical team as well as still being able to spend quality time with patients. She decided to attend Ursuline College after meeting the Ursuline faculty.
“They gave off such a warm and family-like welcome,” she states. “I could tell that they were so invested in my success since this is a brand-new program and we would be their very first graduating class of PA students. I felt that with such supportive and hardworking faculty behind my back, that this would be the perfect place for me.
The program consists of 12 months of didactic instruction—combining an immersive curriculum with hands-on technical skills--and 12 months clinical experience. Graduates earn a Master of Medical Science and are eligible to sit for the PA licensure exam. Last fall, the Ursuline College Physician Assistant Program, sponsored by Ursuline College—as it is formally known--was granted Accreditation - Provisional for its Physician Assistant Studies Program from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).
Dr. Adler, with the help of his dedicated team have built the program over the past two years explains, “The status of Accreditation – Provisional recognizes Ursuline’s commitment to excellence in meeting the ARC-PA standards as well as its dedication to its future alumni.”
“Ursuline College has a 75-year legacy in health care education, starting with our nationally acclaimed undergraduate and graduate nursing programs,” notes Patricia Sharpnack, DNP, RN, CNE, NEA-BC, ANEF, FAAN, Dean of the College’s Breen School of Nursing and Health Professions. “The PA program is an extension of this success and elevates our ability to continue meeting the health care needs of Northeast Ohio--which starting this fall will also include undergraduate degrees in Respiratory Care, and Nutrition and Dietetics as well as a part-time option for our popular Second Degree Accelerated Program in Nursing.”
The College will accept applications for the PA Class of 2024 starting April 27, 2023.