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Global Expert's Praise for New Masters Physician Associate Degree

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One of the world’s leading experts in the development of the physician assistant profession has called the University of Worcester an ‘ideal location’ as it prepares to launch its own MSc Physician Associate (PA) Programme.

Worcester will be the first university in the UK to offer a full Masters degree in this profession, working in partnership with Health Education West Midlands. The first cohort will begin their studies in September 2014.

Earlier this month, the University welcomed Professor Ruth Ballweg, Section Chief at the University of Washington’s MEDEX NW, and Professor David Kuhns, from Pennsylvania’s Arcadia University, who has helped to develop a number of PA programmes at British universities.

The pair, who have each worked on course development throughout the world, were invited to the University of Worcester by Dr Jan Quallington, Head of the Institute of Health and Society, and Jane Perry, Head of Applied Professional Studies, both of whom recently visited Seattle to learn more about the University of Washington’s PA curriculum.

Jane Perry explains: “Jan and I were able to see how the Physician Associate programme works in the USA, and we got an excellent insight into what a first class PA course involves and what we can aspire to.

“Ours will be modelled on the US programme and will be a two-year, intensive clinical programme of study; the traditional UK model is to offer the course as a PGDip, but we felt that anyone going through such an intensive course should come out with a full Masters degree.”

Professor Ballweg and Professor Kuhns were introduced to University of Worcester Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor David Green, before being shown around the University’s facilities.

Professor Ballweg said: “I have worked on the development of a lot of PA programmes around the world; it is now a very popular career path, there are 100,000 PAs in the United States, for example.

“The introduction of this new profession has become a global movement, and one that’s great fun to be involved with. PA programmes are designed to train generalists in the medical model of education, they work alongside doctors and will be very valuable practitioners in the changing healthcare environment.

“It is something that is quite new in the UK however, so it made a lot of sense for me to come to Worcester and be involved.

“From the moment I first got involved, I really liked the mission of this University - it is an ideal setting for a PA programme, particularly because the students will be able to link with all the other health professions here.”

Professor Green adds: “The University of Worcester is deeply involved in education for the health professions. We are committed to combining true quality with care, compassion and innovation.

“This exciting, new course for Physician’s Associates will lead to the education of many outstanding health professionals who will serve the people of the region with distinction for years to come.”