Mississippi College

Physician Assistant Program at Mississippi College Receives Continuing Accreditation

July 3, 2014

Mississippi College’s physician assistant program has received a strong endorsement from a national accreditation agency.

Leaders of Mississippi’s only PA program are delighted with a commission’s approval extending through March 2021. The honor can only help boost recruitment of future Mississippi College graduate students and faculty, officials believe.

Partnering with the University of Mississippi Medical Center and other area healthcare facilities, Mississippi College launched the graduate program in 2011 to train professionals to work under the supervision of physicians. PA grads are especially needed in a poor state ranking among the worst in the nation when measuring heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

It takes graduate students two and one-half years to complete the program. Mississippi College first received provisional accreditation. The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant recently granted “continuing” accreditation following a rigorous evaluation of the medical program on the Clinton campus. Site visits at the Christian university’s PA headquarters at the Baptist Healthplex were a key component of the commission’s findings.

“This is a reflection of the hard work and persistence of the faculty and staff,” said Dr. Bob Philpot, chairman of the MC Department of Physician Assistant Studies. Receiving the commission’s approval for seven years, he said, “is the longest period of accreditation possible.”

Mississippi College’s inaugural class of students, Philpot said, played a significant role in meeting the standards of the comprehensive review process.

“They spent countless hours crafting rules and bylaws for their student society as well as helping iron out problems as they arose. In terms of community service, they set the bar high for subsequent cohorts. This was indeed a special group of students."

The initial class of 29 PA students at Mississippi College graduated in December 2013. About two-thirds of them work as licensed physician assistants in Mississippi. The rest are employed in other states. The next class of 32 PA students is on track to graduate in December 2014. The program presently enrolls about 90 graduate students. University leaders will welcome the Class of 2015 at a White Coat ceremony at the Baptist-affiliated university on August 16.

For new graduates, the PA profession offers boundless opportunities in the growing medical field and attractive salary packages. Physician assistants nationwide earn a median salary of $93,625. CNN/Money in November 2013 rated physician assistants among the best jobs in America.

Physician assistants write prescriptions, diagnose illnesses, interpret lab results, assist in surgeries and perform other vital duties in the medical field.

Mississippi College is now among 187 schools, including the University of Kentucky, Wake Forest University, the University of Florida, the University of Southern California, Texas Tech and Saint Louis University with accredited PA programs.

Dr. Rod Cutrer, the Department of Physician Assistant Studies medical director, considers the granting of seven more years of full accreditation to be a huge accomplishment. Special thanks go to President Lee Royce, Dr. Stan Baldwin, Dean of the School of Science and Mathematics, the PA faculty, staff and students, he said.

“The four years of work to make it happen reflects well on all those who have been part of the success story,” Cuter said. “This is as good as it gets!”

For more information, contact Dr. Bob Philpot at 601-925-7370 or philpot@mc.edu

Photo: Dr. Bob Philpot

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