Physician Assistant Program receives ‘school’ status

From University of Florida College of Medicine Insider

By Christine Velasquez
Published: June 26th, 2009

Forty years ago, Vietnam War veterans returned home attempting to start new lives as civilians. Among them were medics who looked for a way to turn their skills into a living and ultimately created the demand for a new profession.

The University of Florida supported the new physician assistant profession and, eventually, helped set the pace for public medical schools around the nation.

On June 12, 2009, just days before the commencement ceremony for 59 physician assistant studies students, the profession saw another milestone set by the University of Florida’s College of Medicine; the Board of Trustees approved the elevation of the PA Program to the School of Physician Assistant Studies.

“This further demonstrates the significant role of the Physician Assistant Program at the College of Medicine. It also reflects a tremendous need and demand for physician assistants in the health-care systems of our state and the nation,” said College of Medicine Interim Dean, Michael Good, M.D., during the graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 20.

UF has been a trailblazer in moving the profession to the forefront, answering the growing demand for PAs as health-care reform and spending became top national issues,” said Wayne D. Bottom, PA-C, M.P.H., associate dean and director of the School of Physician Assistant Studies, who has led UF’s PA Program for 27 years.

When asked about the significance of the recent elevation to a school status, Bottom said, “While this is designated as a school it is the equivalent of a new department within the College of Medicine which means we have the same rights and privileges as every other department … we have a voice and a vote.”

Currently there are 145 PA programs nationwide. UF is the only public university in Florida to offer PA studies as a graduate-level program, and the program has established a national precedent by becoming the only PA educational program housed in a college of medicine to be elevated from program status to the status of a school.