Austin College’s longstanding commitment to pre-health education aims for the future with a new pathway for students interested in medicine. The addition of a graduate program, Master of Medical Science–Physician Assistant, expands the ’Roo footprint on the health care field in an area of tremendous need. Courses will be taught at the Austin College Health Campus, a 13,000-square-foot space for program administration and classroom instruction.
Work on the Health Campus started in spring 2022 after Austin College leased space in an office building adjacent to Texoma Medical Center in Denison. The renovations created two large classrooms, observation rooms for training in clinical procedures, conference rooms, common space, and offices. High-tech patient simulators that manifest vital signs, clinical signs, and symptoms will enhance students’ training.
The first cohort of approximately 30 students is scheduled to begin classes in June 2024 at the Health Campus site, launching a 24-month plan of study. A new class will matriculate each June. The program’s pre-clinical phase is 13 months of classroom instruction including simulations. Students then move to 11 months of supervised clinical practice experiences in outpatient, inpatient, emergency department, and operating room settings. Clinical experiences will be supervised by preceptors—health care practitioners who work one-on-one with PA students to teach the medical competencies of a Physician Assistant.
“PAs serve as an integral part of team-based healthcare and can improve access to care in underserved communities,” says Dr. Diana Noller, founding director of Austin College’s program. “We aim to educate PAs who understand the impact of illness and disease on the lives of others and are capable of providing high-quality, patient-centered health care that reflects the principles of medical humanities.”
Austin College is grateful for leadership gifts from the Hillcrest Foundation, Texoma Health Foundation, Clara Blackford and W. Aubrey Smith Foundation, M.B. & Edna Zale Foundation, and individual donors whose generosity has supported start-up costs for the new PA Program.
Austin College has applied for Accreditation – Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The Austin College PA program anticipates matriculating its first class in June 2024, pending achieving Accreditation – Provisional status at the September 2023 ARC-PA meeting. Accreditation – Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students. The PA program at Austin College will not commence in the event that provisional accreditation is not received. This means that students will not matriculate into the program and any deposits that have been made will be refunded. The Austin College PA program is approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The PA program has submitted substantive change and off-campus instructional site applications to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and is awaiting
accreditation decisions on these applications.