For Immediate Release
Further Information: Contact Joseph Giomboni
Public Relations Office, (570) 208-5958
October 6, 2010 - King’s College has been awarded a federal grant of nearly $1 million to expand the Physician Assistant Studies (PA) Program by providing financial aid to students who are interested in specializing in primary care. The grant was made by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The $990,000 grant to King’s will enable the College to enroll five additional students in the highly competitive two-year professional phase of the PA master’s degree program in each of the next five academic years. King’s received one of 32 grants made nationally and was the largest of four given to Pennsylvania institutions as part of the Expansion of Physician Assistant Training Program.
“This grant award is an affirmation by the federal government of the quality of the King’s PA Program,” said Father Thomas O’Hara, C.S.C., president of King’s. “It will provide King’s the financial resources to allow additional students to enroll in this highly regarded program. In turn, these graduates will provide patients greater access to preventive and consistent medical care under the Affordable Care Act, help address a predicted national shortage of medical professionals, and carry on the tradition of King’s PA students working in medically underserved areas.”
According to HRSA, 65 million people, more than one-fifth of the country’s population, reside in more than 6,000 Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Areas. There are 164 such areas in Pennsylvania, including 23 in Luzerne County.
“Chronic diseases, most of which are preventable, are one of the main reasons health care costs have soared over the past several decades,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in announcing the grants. “Investing in our primary care workforce will strengthen the role that wellness and prevention play in our health care system.”
“Due to population growth, aging and other factors, experts predict that physician demand will outpace supply through at least 2025,” said Frances Feudale, D.O., director of the King’s Physician Assistant Studies Program and project director.
According to national experts, the newly enacted Affordable Care Act will add an estimated 30 million new patients to already stretched primary care physician practices. While the nation’s medical schools are increasing efforts to educate and train more physicians, this alone will not be enough to address these shortages. Changes such as improving efficiency through the use of competent advanced practice clinicians, non-physician providers, and mid-level providers will also be needed to ease the increasing burden. Physician Assistants are trained health care providers able to meet some of this growing need.
“The project supports specific goals of HRSA’s Healthy People 2010 initiative to eliminate health disparities among Americans,” added Feudale. “By increasing the capacity for King’s to train and prepare additional PAs, the project will help to increase the proportion of people who have a specific source of ongoing care with a regular primary care provider. Physician Assistants work under the supervision of a physician, however, they may be the principle care provider in rural clinics where a physician is present for only one or two days a week. In such cases, the PA communicates with the supervising physician as needed and within the law.”
The Physician Assistant Program was established at King’s as a certificate program in 1975 with a primary mission of training graduates for work in primary care. Since then it has graduated more than 850 students and has grown into a combined five-year bachelor’s and master’s degree program for King’s students and a two-year master’s degree program for professional phase students who earn a bachelor’s degree from another college. Typically, King’s receives 100 applications for each available enrollment opening in the two-year graduate program.
The PA program recently received a seven-year reaccreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The seven-year term is the longest available from the national independent accrediting body. King’s is one of 154 ARC-PA accredited programs in the country and one of only 16 in Pennsylvania. King’s is only one of three Pennsylvania accredited programs based at a college; most are at universities.
Upon completion of the master’s portion of the program, PA graduates must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) in order to practice as a physician assistant. Since the beginning of the program, King’s PA students have had a 99.8% overall pass rate on the PANCE
King's College is a Catholic College sponsored by the Congregation of Holy Cross.