Idaho State University expands Physician Assistant Studies Program to The College of Idaho

August, 26, 2014

Idaho State University has expanded its two-year Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program (M.P.A.S.) to The College of Idaho in Caldwell, adding 12 seats this fall to the existing 60.

The intent is to meet the continuing demand for physician assistants in the Northwest and improve access to health care in underserved areas, say officials from both institutions.  Physician assistants are highly skilled health professionals who provide medical treatment under the supervision of a physician.

The 12 P.A. students will attend class in a newly renovated facility on the C of I campus, equipped with state-of-the art technology linking the Caldwell site to classrooms at the ISU-Meridian Health Science Center and ISU’s main campus in Pocatello.

“I’m thrilled with what C of I has created. It’s clear they are behind the program 100 percent, and I have every confidence the partnership will succeed,” said Paula Phelps, program director and chair of ISU’s Department of Physician Assistant Studies. 

The dozen slots bring the number of seats in ISU’s P.A. program to 72. Thirty of the students are based at ISU-Meridian and 30 in Pocatello. 

In August 2012, ISU and C of I signed an agreement, paving the way for the expansion.   The partnership draws on the strengths, expertise and resources of both institutions, say university officials.

ISU will award the M.P.A.S. degree, and ISU faculty members David Talford, Talia Sierra and associate program director Marv Sparrell will have offices on the C of I campus. 

A public university and private college partnering to deliver physician assistant education is a first for Idaho and may be the only program of its kind in the country, noted Phelps.

She’s also grateful to St. Luke’s Health System for partnering with ISU and C of I to provide training sites for second-year students—key to the program expansion. 

 “When you have different institutions working together to meet the health care needs of Idaho, everyone wins,” said Phelps.

ISU's M.P.A.S.  Program, which began in 1995, has graduated 18 classes and 621 physician assistants. Plans are also in the works to upgrade the ISU sites, including construction of a new P.A. classroom in Meridian this year.

Forbes Magazine rates the M.P.A.S. degree as the No. 1 advanced degree for jobs in the country, and the Idaho Department of Labor estimates P.A. positions in the state will increase by more than 40 percent through 2018.

For more information about the joint P.A. program visit  www.isu.edu/PAprog/  or www.collegeofidaho.edu/physician-assistant

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