As our community prepares for significant population growth with the addition of companies like Tesla, Jet.com and Switch, the University of Nevada School of Medicine and Renown Health are continuously working together to combat the shortage of healthcare providers in our region.
The latest effort will be seen in 2017 with the start of a new Master of Physician Assistant program. Renown Health will be an integral partner in this new and exciting endeavor - committing $500,000 to help kick-start the program as well as providing the expertise of Renown providers and leading-edge training sites for future Physician Assistants.
Physician assistants, also known as PAs, work on medical teams under the supervision of physicians and surgeons. They are trained to examine, diagnose and treat patients in primary care, family medicine and specialty practices. Everyday responsibilities include patient appointments, performing physical exams, prescribing medication and ordering tests, assisting with surgeries and counseling patients on treatment plans.
This new program is key to the School of Medicine and Renown's joint focus on training tomorrow's health providers and expanding our region's workforce. Before this collaboration, the closest PA program was located in Sacramento, California. Statistics show medical professionals tend to stay and practice within the communities where they train which means this collaborative program will help increase the overall number of providers in our region.
This full-time program will last 27 months and include academic and clinical skills courses as well as supervised clinical practice. Students are required to have at least 2,000 hours of healthcare experience before applying and because there is no residency needed after graduation, they can immediately begin working right here in northern Nevada upon completion of the program. A nationally recognized consultant and one of the first formally trained PAs in southern Oregon, Ruth Ballweg, MPA, PA-C from the University of Washington helped develop the program.
The program's founding director, Brian Lauf, PA-C, has already been named and the School of Medicine is currently seeking faculty and staff for the program. The School of Medicine has also applied for accreditation of this new program. Pending approval, the first PA class would begin in June 2017 on the University's Redfield Campus and the first 24 graduates will be seen in fall 2019.
In addition to this first of its kind program, the School of Medicine and Renown have also recently partnered on a residency program expansion for graduating doctors and opened the Office for Community Faculty on the Renown Regional Medical Center campus.