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Mayo Clinic to implement physician assistant master's program in effort to mitigate looming physician shortages,care gaps

The PA Program's first class is anticipated to begin in fall 2020 with goal of maintaining care access levels, shrinking gaps .

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Photo courtesy WikipediaPhoto courtesy Wikipedia

Mayo Clinic has received initial accreditation approval from the Higher Learning Commission for a new physician assistant master's degree program through their School of Health Sciences.

The 24-month program leads to a Master of Health Sciences in physician assistant studies. The program will feature problem-solving skills in small group and other hybrid learning activities and some courses and labs will be held at the expanding Cascade Meadow facility in Rochester for Saint Mary's University of Minnesota.

Another highlight will be hands-on clinical experiences at Mayo Clinic. The second year of the curriculum is dedicated to clinical rotations at Mayo Clinic's hospitals and clinics in southern Minnesota, western Wisconsin, and northern Iowa.

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The PA Program's first class is anticipated to begin in fall 2020, pending approval by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant.


Physician assistants will be increasingly important as the decade progress and physician shortages, especially in primary care, ramp up. A shortage of 124,000 primary care physicians is forecasted by 2025, and rural areas will be especially vulnerable. PAs will be looked at to help fill these gaps and maintain access to care.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics reflects the above data, as their models predict 37 percent job growth for physician assistants by 2026 ─ the fifth-fastest-growing health care profession over the next decade.


"By tailoring this curriculum to best fit the next generation of PAs, this program will offer a boldly innovative learning experience second to none," says Dr. Michael Huckabee, PA Program director. "The talented Mayo Clinic faculty offers a world-class education. Clinical learning opportunities across the Mayo Clinical Health System offer a remarkable breadth and depth of patient care experiences."


Mayo Clinic said the PA Program will emphasize the role of PAs in rural healthcare settings, so that PA graduates may help bridge care access gap for patients in those regions. Just 10 percent of doctors practice in these areas and only 4 percent of family medicine training occurs in such areas. Currently, 1 in 7 PAs work in rural settings, helping to alleviate this issue by providing direct medical care as part of a closely coordinated care team with physicians, Mayo Clinic said.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
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