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June 18, 2014

Lake Erie College begins Master of Physician Assistant Studies program

Twenty-four students were sworn in on May 15 as members of the first cohort in the Lake Erie College Master of Physician Assistant Studies program.

During a formal welcome ceremony held that morning, the students received their pins and medical equipment bags. The cohort members were selected from 458 students who applied from throughout the United States. They were chosen based not only on their undergraduate grades, but more on their compassion, kindness and ability to work as members of a team.

Joe Weber, MBA, MPAS, PA-C, program director, said the program is like medical school jammed into 27 months. "The students will learn 1,073 diseases and over 700 drugs. They will spend 288 days in the classroom and 1800 hours in clinical practice," Weber said.

Students will take 19 courses totaling 67 semester hours during the didactic phase of the program and will complete nine rotations in all phases of medicine during the clinical phase. These rotations will be completed in hospitals, physicians' offices, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers and other settings. At the end of the 27 months of preparation, students must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) in order to become licensed to practice as physician assistants.

Weber pointed out that the heart of medicine is the over-arching theme of the entire program. "Technical skills are teachable; core values and morals must be ingrained in a person," he said.

The upstairs of one of the wings in the Garfield Center on the Lake Erie College campus has been converted into a state-of-the-art physician assistant suite containing a classroom, fully equipped laboratory, conference room, offices and waiting room. Some of the pieces of specialized equipment in the suite are a virtual cadaver and a three-dimensional printer. The suite is designed to give the students an optimum learning environment for their classroom study.

David Kosnosky, MD, chief medical officer at University Hospitals Geauga, and medical director of the program, helped shape the vision for the program. Kosnosky believes that physician assistants are vitally important in medicine today. "Patient care now has to be an integrated team approach," he said. "No one can do it alone."

Marcella Di Placito, one of the students enrolled in the program, agreed. "When you're shadowing, you can't wait to become a physician assistant and teach someone else. Everyone is open to helping each other."

Justin Weddle, another physician assistant student, said, "Professors are not just teaching us as students, but as colleagues. We will all depend on one another someday."

Other full-time members of the Lake Erie College Master of Physician Studies program teaching staff are Sean Kramer, MSHS, PA-C, academic coordinator; Jennifer Sample, MPAS, PA-C, admissions coordinator; and Ray Wawrowski, DHSc, PA-C, clinical coordinator.

For information about the Lake Erie College Master of Physician Assistant Studies program, contact Joe Weber at 440.497.8625.
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