By CLAY CHANDLER / Mississippi Business Journal
JACKSON – The American Academy of Family Physicians estimates that by 2020 the U.S. will have a shortage of family practitioners that could exceed 40,000.
In Mississippi, the Mississippi Academy of Physician Assistants thinks it can fill the void.
Currently, there are 100 practicing physician’s assistants in Mississippi, according to number provided by MAPA President Kim Gray.
“Since our licensure in 2000, we have attempted to increase awareness about PAs and educate our communities on the quality health care that physician assistants can provide,” Gray said in a press release.
The Academy would also like to grow the number of practicing PAs, a goal shared by Mississippi College in Clinton, which will start a PA program next May.
“We have our accreditation site visit on Nov. 4,” said Dr. Bob Philpot, associate professor and chairman of MC’s Department of Physician Assistant Studies.
Philpot said he hopes the new PA program is accredited in time for the school to start accepting applicants by January.
“If the accreditation site visit goes well we may have applications sooner than that. We have to clear that hurdle, be we feel like we’re in pretty good shape,” he said.
Thirty students will make up the inaugural class. They will be divided into six groups that will study under one faculty member. The post-graduate program is 30 months long, with the first 15 months of the curriculum centering on classroom and pre-clinical work. The second 15 months will send students out into clinics and hospitals.
The 30-student cap will remain “for at least a few years,” Philpot said. “We may grow, but I don’t foresee that we’ll grow to more than 48 total.”
A new facility being built on MC’s campus will house the program. It will feature six mock exam rooms that will each be fitted with a $200,000 audio and video system to record the classroom proceedings. Each session will then be sent to individual students’ iTunes accounts. It could also be used to bring in guest lecturers, Philpot said.
“We can, for example, arrange for a nephrologist from (University of Mississippi Medical Center) to get on his computer, and if he has Skype, we can bring him into the classroom. The possibilities there are limitless.