Today, Milligan College announced the upcoming launch of its physician assistant program in summer 2017 with the support of Mountain States Health Alliance. The college also recently appointed 2001 Milligan graduate Andrew Hull, of Johnson City, Tennessee, to serve as director of the program.
The announcement was made at Milligan this afternoon by Milligan President Dr. Bill Greer and Alan Levine, president and chief executive officer of Mountain States, along with other Milligan and Mountain States representatives.
“We are grateful to Mountain States for providing valuable advice and encouragement, as well as financial resources, to help Milligan launch a physician assistant program that will help meet a critical healthcare need both regionally and nationally,” said Greer.
Milligan’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (M.S.P.A.S.) will be a 28-month, 108 credit hour program projected to have 60 students when fully-enrolled, 25 graduates annually, filling a much-needed gap in healthcare employment regionally and nationally. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of physician assistants is expected to increase by 38 percent between now and 2022, primarily due to a shortage of primary care providers and the rising cost of healthcare, among other factors.
A financial investment from Mountain States will be used to establish the Mountain States Health Alliance Physician Assistant Center, which will be housed in Milligan’s B.D. Phillips Building, acquired when Emmanuel Christian Seminary became part of the college in summer 2015. The college’s engineering program, including new laboratory space, also will be located in the B.D. Phillips Building when it launches in fall 2016.
On top of brand-new facilities, recent renovations to Milligan’s Science Building and expansions to its gross anatomy lab, coupled with its close proximity to Johnson City Medical Center, a reputable tertiary teaching hospital, set the college’s physician assistant program apart from many existing programs.
“The physician assistant program fits well among Milligan’s other health-related programs and with the college’s mission as a Christian college that seeks to educate men and women to be servant leaders,” said Greer. “Physician assistants are highly trained healthcare professionals with the academic and clinical expertise needed to administer care in a wide variety of healthcare settings. As servant leaders, our graduates not only will serve patients with expert knowledge in their field, they’ll do so with caring and compassionate hearts.”
Mountain States and Milligan have enjoyed a long and fruitful partnership over the years. Mountain States supported the college’s launch of its Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1992, as well as its Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program in 1998, and has provided grants over the years for nursing and occupational therapy.
“Providing highly qualified health professionals for our region is a strategic priority for Mountain States Health Alliance,” said Levine. “The physician assistant role, in particular, is of increasing importance in today’s healthcare landscape, as our physician practices take on more and more responsibility for population health improvement. Physician assistants and other ‘physician extenders’ make it possible for practices to deliver more patient-centered care and help their patients achieve better health outcomes while reducing the cost of care. We are proud to continue our great relationship with Milligan by supporting this new physician assistant training program.”
Hull, who currently is a certified physician assistant at Tri-Cities Skin and Cancer in Johnson City, has a wide range of medical experience working locally as a physician assistant in areas including dermatology, family practice and emergency room medicine. He served on Milligan’s physician assistant feasibility study committee and was involved with program development. Hull and his wife, Rachel, attend Boones Creek Christian Church, where Andrew serves as deacon. They have two children, Benjamin, age 6, and Alexandra, age 3.
“I had such a wonderful experience as an undergraduate that to return as the director of the physician assistant program is like a dream come true,” said Hull, who, after graduating Milligan with a Bachelor of Science in biology, earned his Master of Science in physician assistant studies from South University in Savannah, Georgia, in 2005. “I look forward to continuing Milligan’s tradition of excellence by creating not only a rigorous physician assistant program that trains students to be excellent medical providers, but one that encourages them to be servant leaders in their community.”
The Milligan College Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies has applied for Accreditation-Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program anticipates matriculating its first class in May 2017, pending achieving Accreditation-Provisional status at the March 2017 ARC-PA meeting. Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.
For more information, visit www.arc-pa.org. The program, along with engineering, are pending approval by the college’s regional accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
For more information on Milligan’s physician assistant program, visit www.milligan.edu/pa.