Physician Assistant Studies Students Receive White Coats As N.J. Program Welcomes First Students

PA Class of 2016 receive white coats

During a joyful ceremony last week, physician assistant studies students in the Class of 2016 donned their new white medical coats to mark the start of their clinical rotations. The 49 students were helped into their coats from their Class of 2015 mentors, who will graduate next month.

Meanwhile, the first 22 students in Philadelphia University’s new South Jersey-based PA program started classes this week, as did the entering class of physician assistant studies students on the University’s main campus. PhilaU’s nationally ranked PA program was expanded to New Jersey to help meet the growing demand for health care professionals.

At the July 16 white coat ceremony, family members, friends, faculty and staff celebrated the PA students, who will each complete 10 rotations over the next year in such specialties as emergency medicine, psychiatry, surgery, orthopedics, pediatrics, cardiology, obstetrics and gynecology, and diagnostic radiology.

“The white coat ceremony marks the day future PAs leave the classroom and go out into practice to hone their skills interacting with patients and preceptors,” said Jesse Coale, director of the M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies program. “They will treat all ages, from infants to geriatrics, and will evaluate and manage patients with the strong ethical integrity and emotional maturity they’ve developed over the last 12 months as part of their didactic education.”

PA students Ken Watson and Emily Reynolds in their white coats.

PA students Ken Watson and Emily Reynolds in their white coats.

Kenneth Watson, president of the PA Class of 2016, said he is excited to put his white coat to use in his first rotation in emergency medicine at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital. “This ceremony symbolizes not only my hard work, but my peers’ hard work and their sacrifices,” he said. Watson, who is considering specializing in burn care, said, “My professors have guided me to this point and now it’s time for me to apply what I have learned to real-life situations.”

Emily Reynolds, who started a rotation in primary care at Inspira Health in New Jersey this week, said receiving her white coat marked “an incredible milestone” in her career as a health care professional. Reynolds, who plans to focus on emergency or trauma care in the future, said “every patient gives another opportunity to learn and grow as a provider.”

Meanwhile, this week the inaugural group of 22 students in PhilaU’s new physician assistant studies program based in South Jersey started classes in the two-year graduate program.

The New Jersey PA program mirrors the one on PhilaU’s main campus, a nationally ranked program that offers undergraduates an accelerated master’s degree in five years and graduate students a two-year master’s degree.

Philadelphia University has partnered with Stockton University and Reliance Medical Group to offer the New Jersey program. Stockton this fall will enroll the first freshmen in a new five-year program leading to a bachelor’s degree from Stockton’s School of Health Sciences and an M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies from PhilaU.

Graduate classes will be held at Stockton’s Carnegie Center in Atlantic City and students will perform clinical work at Reliance and other sites in the surrounding communities.

“This collaboration provides a great opportunity for students to obtain what Forbes magazine recently cited as the top master’s degree leading to jobs,” says Michael Dryer, executive dean of PhilaU’s College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts. “This program will help address the significant shortage of primary care health practitioners in New Jersey.”

When fully enrolled, PhilaU’s physician assistant studies program in South Jersey will include 40 students, with half of those coming from Stockton’s accelerated undergraduate program and the rest from other colleges and universities.

Physician assistants work under the supervision of licensed doctors and practice medicine alongside other providers. Their responsibilities include taking medical histories; performing physical examinations; ordering or performing lab and diagnostic tests; developing treatment plans and delivering health-related counseling. For more information on PhilaU’s M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies program, click here.

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