Chatham News

Master of Physician Assistant Studies program receives over $2 million in federal grants for education and scholarship

By: Paul A. Kovach, Vice President for Public and Community Relations
October 1, 2010

PITTSBURGH (October 1, 2010) … The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration announced this week that Chatham University’s Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) program was awarded approximately $2 million in grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Chatham’s MPAS program will receive $ 1,113,542 in funding for physician assistant training through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 and $880,000 for scholarships over five years under the Expansion of Physician Assistant Training (EPAT).

This June Chatham’s MPAS program also received from HRSA a one-year $110,872 grant to fund scholarships for disadvantaged students, $44,102 of which was ARRA funded, bringing the program’s 2010 fundraising total thus far to over $2.1 million.

Chatham’s awards are part of $130 million in HHS grants to support primary care workforce training ($42.1 mil), equipment to enhance primary care workforce training ($50.5 mil.), oral health workforce training ($23.9 mil), loan repayments for health professionals ($8.3 mil), health careers opportunity program ($2.1 mil), and patient navigator outreach and chronic disease prevention in health disparity populations ($3.8 mil).

“We are very proud of our MPAS program and I congratulate Luis Ramos, our program director, as well as our faculty and staff for receiving this grant,” noted Laura S. Armesto, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs. “The MPAS is one of Chatham’s most exemplary graduate programs and this funding will help to both enhance the academic component and provide needed tuition assistance to our students.”

“Physician assistants fill an important role in today’s medical community, whether in a busy doctor’s office or an underserved rural community that lacks basic care,” explained Mr. Ramos, MS, PA-C. “These grants will not only benefit our program and students, but also the millions of Americans that need quality health care.”

About Chatham’s MPAS Program
The Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) program at Chatham University provides academic and clinical training that prepares graduates to be certified and licensed to practice as extenders to the practicing physician, especially the primary care physician. Established in 1995, Chatham’s MPAS is a recognized leader in PA education and was the first in the United States to introduce Problem-Based Learning (PBL) as the primary methodology in post-graduate PA education. PBL utilizes self-directed learning, rather than classroom lectures, to prepare Physician Assistants with competency to practice as primary care providers. Self-directed learning enables students to rely on evidence-based medical knowledge as soon as they enter their clinical rotations and later serves them throughout their careers as healthcare providers.

Approximately 60 students are admitted per year to Chatham’s MPAS program, with a total full-time enrollment of 130. Students complete two didactic semesters at the University’s Chatham Eastside facility before beginning clinical rotations at various sites in the Pittsburgh region as well as around the U.S. and in other countries. Because of program growth and the need for physician assistants in Puerto Rico, this fall the University enrolled its first cohort of MPAS students in San Juan, Puerto Rico through a partnership with Universidad Metropolitana (UMet). The Puerto Rico cohort will complete two didactic semesters at UMet’s Bayamón Campus in San Juan, and clinical rotations at affiliated clinical sites in Puerto Rico.

The Expansion of Physician Assistant Training Program (EPAT) is a five-year initiative that will invest over $32 million in training for primary care PAs. The goal of the program is to increase student enrollment in primary care PA programs and to produce 600 new primary care PAs by 2014. The program provides funds for student educational expenses, stipends, reasonable living expenses and indirect costs. For a maximum of two years, a total of $22,000 per year is allotted for each student. Tuition for Chatham’s MPAS is $11,799 per semester (not including books or equipment). The MPAS consists of 85 credit hours completed in 24 months.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted this week in Washington, DC that “My home state of Kansas and Mary’s [Mary Wakefield, HRSA] home state of North Dakota experience shortages that are typical of rural areas, but we know that the rural areas are not the only underserved areas. Today, millions of Americans live in those areas. The communities don’t just need doctors. They need mental health providers, dentists, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. And while the shortage has been looming for decades, President Obama and the Congress and those of us here at HHS, working with our partners, are committed to closing this gap as soon as possible.”

About Chatham University 
Chatham University prepares students from around the world to help develop solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. Every Chatham student – women in Chatham’s historic women’s residential college, and men and women in Chatham’s graduate programs – receives a highly individualized, experiential educational experience that is informed by Chatham’s strong institutional commitment to globalism, the environment and citizen leadership. Founded in 1869, Chatham University includes the Shadyside Campus, with Chatham Eastside and the historic 39-acre Woodland Road arboretum; and the 388-acre Eden Hall Farm Campus north of Pittsburgh. For more information call 800-837-1290 or visit www.chatham.edu.