First 45 FIU Physician Assistant slots filled
Written by Catherine Lackner on May 5, 2015
Only 45 were chosen out of nearly 700 who applied for Florida International University’s inaugural graduate physician assistant (PA) program, which is set to begin this fall.
The 27-month master’s program conducted by the university’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine is critically needed, said Pete A. Gutierrez, associate dean and founding chair of the program.
“There are not enough doctors to go around right now, and physician assistants are their right hands,” said Dr. Gutierrez said. “That’s why this program is so important.”
Numerous factors combine to increase the demand for healthcare practitioners, he said. They include an aging population, an increase in chronic diseases requiring more treatment, and the ongoing shortage of primary-care physicians.
Seven out of 10 doctors in Florida are specialists, and, though some experts say the number of primary-care doctors is inching up, it doesn’t meet the population’s needs, especially those of the uninsured and underinsured.
“Our program seeks to help alleviate need, particularly in our community, by educating culturally sensitive medical professionals,” said Dr. Gutierrez in a university release.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 38.4% rise in the need for physician assistants by 2022, the university release continued.
Students will spend the first 15 months in the classroom at the Modesto Maidique campus at 11200 SW Eighth St. in western Miami-Dade, and then rotate through hands-on, supervised practice in family medicine, internal medicine, geriatrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery, and emergency medicine at local healthcare facilities.
If the program is a success, which the university anticipates, the number of students could grow from 45 to 60 after five years, according to its accreditation charter, Dr. Gutierrez said.
Requirements include a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited college or university with a minimum upper division grade point average of 3.0 and a science grade point average of 3.3, a score of 152 or higher on the Graduate Record Exam, a successful personal interview and letters of recommendation. Healthcare experience is preferred but not mandatory.