FMU moving forward with new physician assistant program - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

FMU moving forward with new physician assistant program

 FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A physician assistant program is coming to Francis Marion University, benefiting both students and the health community as the second program of its kind, in the state.

“It is well documented that South Carolina is under-served in primary care physicians,” said Peter King, associate provost for enrollment management and academic affairs at FMU.

FMU faculty and the board of trustees approved the full curriculum for the PA program sending it to South Carolina's Commission on Higher Education, where it was also approved.

The program will still need to become accredited nationally so the graduates will be able to be licensed as PAs on a national level. A meeting for that is scheduled for May 2016.

The PA program requires a four-year degree and will be 27 months long, including the summer.

PA programs are an alternative for medical school for students who want to get into doctor's offices without spending eight additional years studying.

“Still going to have late nights, but you don't have the major, major responsibilities that a doctor has, but you still have an important role,” said Ariel Washington, an FMU senior who is planning to apply to the program.

PAs are also in high demand as the health industry looks to lower costs, but maintain quality care.

“This will be a really good addition to the state and help family health practitioners out in the rural areas of South Carolina to provide services to the citizens,” King said.

The first class of students will start in fall 2016 and graduate in December 2018. The program will be housed in the $15.5 million health sciences complex FMU is building next year.

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