Physician assistant program condenses curriculum by four months
By Alex Branch
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant approved the UNT Health Science Center’s proposal for the new curriculum, which will take effect in Fall 2019.
Student feedback was a factor in the decision to shorten the length of the program, which was at least four months longer than many PA programs in the state and one of the longest in the nation, said Kirk W. Barron, PhD, PA-C, Chairman of the Physician Assistant Studies Program.
“This will make us even more competitive to attract the best and brightest students,” Dr. Barron said. “From a student perspective, you can either be practicing and earning money for those four months or you can still be in school for four more months.
“From the institution’s perspective, we can more efficiently graduate the same number of students with a quality education that prepares them to be future leaders in health care,” he said.
The UNTHSC PA program, established in 1997, originally was a 27-month curriculum but grew to 34 months when it became a master’s level program in 2000, he said. Today, it is ranked 33rd out of more than 150 schools assessed in the most recent U.S. News and World Report rankings.
Last year 1,673 qualified students from Texas and across the country applied for 75 spots.
To achieve the new curriculum, program officials will reduce overlap by combining several courses and trim the amount of time students spend away from campus during breaks, Dr. Barron said. The faculty also identified several areas of the curriculum that were longer than needed.
“During this assessment, we also identified several courses we wanted to bring back, such as one on geriatrics,” Dr. Barron said. “So we tightened some elements of the curriculum while also adding some features that we feel will be valuable to our students.”
Jessica Hartos, PhD, Associate Professor, and Thomas Diver, MPAS, PA-C, Associate Director, played essential roles in the redesign of the new curriculum.
Camille Jones, President of the UNTHSC PA Student Association, said that the new 30-month curriculum should benefit future students.
“While UNTHSC has undoubtedly produced high-caliber, well-educated and quality PAs, its lengthy curriculum makes it the longest PA program in Texas,” she said. “Most students have had exposure to health care through previous jobs, internships or volunteering opportunities and we are eager to get out of our seats and start working with patients.”
Though the Health Science Center’s PA program is one of the most affordable in Texas, the financial benefit of a shorter curriculum for students is meaningful, said Dani Lutes, a second-year PA student.
“Moving to a 30-month program allows students that have federal and private loans to begin paying off debt sooner rather than later,” she said.
By Cari Hyden Looking for a good book to read? Have you just finished a riveting volume that you’d like to share with others? UNTHSC just opened its second Little Free Library. It’s in the Lewis Library lobby, near the Java Lab. There you can feel free to pick up a book to read. Then next...Read more
May 20, 2019
By Jan Jarvis Halfway through his first year in medical school, Parker Murray fell apart. Homesick, depressed and overwhelmed, the Utah native collapsed on his bed one weekend. “I cried like two days straight,” he said. “I felt like I was drowning and struggled to pull myself toge...Read more
May 15, 2019
By Alex Branch Would a bicycle get you to work faster? Maybe you’ve pondered that question in your car during a slow, congested morning commute. Two UNT Health Science Center College of Pharmacy professors will answer the question — albeit quite unscientifically — Friday on For...Read more
May 15, 2019
By Alex Branch Gene and Helga Lukacsy will never forget the worry and sleepless nights after their son went missing in October 2016. Anthony Lukacsy, 46, faced his share of life struggles and was homeless. But he always periodically checked in with family, even if just to ask f...Read more
May 14, 2019