PA studies program set to begin in January

Brenau’s new Masters of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program is nearly ready to welcome its first cohort in January 2021. The curriculum is done, faculty have been hired and the PA Department’s renovated space in the Brenau Downtown Center is complete.

Incoming students will have a couple of pieces in their program that are unlike others in the country, says Julie Keena, chair of the Physician Assistant Studies program. For the physical space, the students will have access to group rooms in order to help with critical thinking and clinical problem-solving. Within the curriculum, students will be trained in mental health first aid and will be required to complete at least one rotation in a rural or medically underserved community.

“We want the PAs as primary care providers to be well positioned to take care of that population that really needs help,” Keena says.

The PA field is very competitive with only 260 programs in the country. For its first year, Brenau’s program had 490 applications for 33 spots. On U.S. News & World Report’s list of “Best Jobs 2020,” physician assistants were ranked second for health care and the third overall.

The PA faculty includes five full-time and two part-time members with a combined 170 years of clinical experience and 50 years of academic experience. Some of the faculty include Director of Didactic Education Neena Xavier, who set up the clinical sites and will be working with students for the first 16 months of the program; Assistant Program Director Kyrus Patch, who has over 40 years experience as a PA; and Medical Director Allen Butts, a former surgeon in Gainesville, Georgia.

“We definitely have the best team I’ve ever worked with,” Keena says.

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