August 18, 1999


FORT WORTH, Texas -- The first state-funded Physician Assistant Studies masterís program in Texas has been approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for the University of North Texas Health Science Center. The program will accept approximately 22 students to begin in the fall of 2000.

The UNT Health Science Centerís current undergraduate program in Physician Assistant Studies has been in place since 1997. The program is based on a medical model, and physician assistant students share courses with the health science centerís medical students. That aspect will remain in the 31-month masterís program.

The transition to a masterís level program allows for increased emphasis on prevention and public health, with additional course study in epidemiology, biostatistics, health care management and clinically related research.

"By offering a masterís Physician Assistant Studies Program, the health science center contributes to providing mid-level health professionals for underserved areas in Texas," said Hank Lemke, PA-C, director of the centerís Physician Assistant Studies Program. "The new masterís program will allow students to gain additional hands-on experience through an extended rural health clinical rotation."

In the new program, masterís educated physician assistants will be trained with advanced clinical knowledge and skills, such as designing and implementing clinical research and analyzing outcomes, assisting in managing clinic supervision at underserved sites and making clinical decisions that are based on population-based studies.

"Today 44 percent of the physician assistant studies programs in the country are offering masterís level programs," said Lemke. "In 1994, less than 20 percent offered the masterís degree, so the new figure reflects a national shift to a masterís level physician assistant program."

Applications for the professional degree program will be available in October of this year, and the application deadline will be February 1, 2000. For additional information, contact the health science centerís Physician Assistant Studies Program at (817) 735-2301.