Mississippi College

Mississippi College Salutes Physician Assistant Students at White Coat Ceremony

August 19, 2014

Allison Cooper feels blessed to be part of Mississippi College’s physician assistant program.

Her P.A. professors on the Clinton campus “have taught me not only the principles from textbooks, but also how to be a great provider and care for patients here in Mississippi,” Cooper says.

A graduate student from Hattiesburg, Allison was among 31 Class of 2015 members recently honored at a White Coat ceremony.

The daughter of Gary and Gwen Cooper, the Mississippi College graduate hit the books from day one and ever since has received excellent training from outstanding educators the past 15 months. “I have learned more than I ever thought possible.”

At the August 16 dinner at the B.C. Rogers Student Center, Heather Dunham said she enrolled as a physician assistant student because it offers a much quicker route than medical school to serve patients.

Unique to Mississippi, MC’s two and one-half year program enrolls 90 graduate students and trains them to work as medical professionals under the supervision of physicians. Based at the Baptist Healthplex, the program began on the Clinton campus in 2011.

A Louisiana Tech graduate from Quitman, La., Dunham is in the Mississippi College pipeline to serve the enormous medical needs of a region with the nation’s worst rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. The MC programs works with the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and other healthcare facilities in the region.

“I wanted to be part of the solution and help people in a meaningful way,” says physician assistant student Becky Moore of Jackson. “This is a great program,” the University of Mississippi graduate added.

Carrie Eure began taking physician assistant classes because the Brandon resident seeks to serve people with major medical problems.

 “I want to stay in Mississippi and like rural medicine,” says the Delta State University graduate. Carrie should discover plenty of opportunities to advance in her profession in the South.

At the Saturday evening ceremonies, students and family members heard from speakers like Physician Assistant director Dr. Bob Philpot, medical director Dr. Rod Cutrer and Mississippi College President Lee Royce. A cancer survivor and author Connie Thompson Titus served as keynote speaker.

Wearing their white medical coats, the students recited the physician assistant oath, vowing to serve their patients with compassion, provide effective care and respect the dignity of all human beings.

Sixteen of the 31 P.A. students in the Class of 2015 are Mississippi residents. Others come from such states as Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Illinois. Mississippi College P.A. leaders are accepting applications for the next class enrolling in May. Interviews for prospective students begin in September. In big demand as America’s baby boomers grow older, physicians assistants earned a median salary of $93,741 across the USA in 2014, reports show.

MC’s program recently received continuing national accreditation through 2021. It came from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant. Schools such as Duke, the University of Iowa, Rutgers, Emory and Baylor offer physician assistant programs.

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

Photo: Physician assistant student Allison A. Cooper of Hattiesburg is joined by her parents, Gary and Gew Cooper, at Mississippi College's White Coat ceremony. Honored at the August 16 dinner on the Clinton campus were 31 P.A. students with the Class of 2015.

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