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Physician assistant program celebrates new facilities

New University of the Pacific program in Sacramento will help address looming doctor shortage
May 19, 2016

University of the Pacific today will celebrate completion of newly remodeled facilities for its planned Master of Physician Assistant Studies program in Sacramento. The program, aimed at helping to meet the nation's urgent need for primary health care providers, has already received more than 2,000 applications for 45 seats. The program expects to welcome its first students in January 2017.

"This reflects both the tremendous demand for physician assistants nationwide and University of the Pacific's strong reputation for educating health professionals," said founding director Mark Christiansen, a practicing physician assistant for more than 35 years. "We will be able to select a highly qualified inaugural class of students who have a passion for helping others."

A daylong open house and 4 p.m. ceremonial ribbon-cutting at Pacific's Sacramento Campus on Thursday, May 19, will bring together community partners, physician assistants, physicians and hospital representatives from the area.

The campus, at 3200 5th Avenue in Sacramento, is expanding into a multidisciplinary center that will educate the professionals California needs in the decades ahead. New programs focus on law, business and education, in addition to health. The new physician assistant program aligns with Sacramento's efforts as one of seven Health Career Pathways Communities nationwide focused on creating long-term career pathways and increasing the supply of skilled health care professionals.

"The opening of UOP's Physician's Assistant Program further establishes the Sacramento region as a national leader in the healthcare sector," said Bill Mueller, CEO of Valley Vision, a regional leadership organization serving the greater Sacramento area. "The program provides our regional health care providers with an even deeper talent pool to fill in-demand jobs, and provides an avenue for students to pursue a high-earning career that has tremendous growth opportunity. This program will add to the health and prosperity of our community in so many ways."

The new PA program will become one of just five graduate programs for physician assistant studies in Northern California. The others are at UC Davis, Stanford, Samuel Merritt College in Oakland and Touro University in Vallejo. Statewide, there are just 11 accredited graduate programs.

PAs are nationally certified and state-licensed medical professionals who practice as members of health care teams with physicians and other providers. Within the physician-PA relationship, PAs make clinical decisions and provide a broad range of diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive and health maintenance services.

The PA profession was created to address a shortage of quality medical providers in the 1960s. Today, more than 108,500 PAs are in practice in the United States, and the nation's physician assistant programs graduate about 7,000 new PAs a year.

But that's not enough to keep pace with the anticipated 30-percent growth in jobs for PAs forecast by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics through 2024.

Driving the demand are a predicted physician shortage, aging population and growing number of people with access to health care through the Affordable Care Act.

The median salary for PAs in California was $102,537 per year in 2014, and the job was rated the No. 7 best career in America by Glassdoor for 2016.

Pacific's Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree program is a full-time, 27-month course of study designed for professionals currently working in other areas of health care, individuals interested in a second career opportunity, and pre-health students interested in entering the fast-growing field.

The program will provide rich opportunities for students to engage in the inter-professional learning that will prepare them to work in multidisciplinary health care teams. The opportunities will be made possible through collaborative experiences with Pacific students studying to be dentists, pharmacists, speech-language pathologists, physical therapists, music therapists and audiologists through the university's many highly regarded health programs.

In addition, numerous clinical sites from Bakersfield to Redding have signed on to help provide clinical training for PA students. To contact admissions, email or call (916) 739-7365.

About University of the Pacific
Founded in 1851 as the first chartered institution of higher education in California, University of the Pacific prepares students for professional and personal success through rigorous academics, small classes, and a supportive and engaging culture. Widely recognized as one of the most beautiful private university campuses in the West, the Stockton Campus offers more than 80 majors in seven schools. The university's distinctive Northern California footprint also includes its San Francisco Campus, home to the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and new graduate programs in health, food and technology fields, and Sacramento Campus, home to the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and new graduate programs in health, education, business, public policy and analytics. For more information, visit

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