Northwestern Develops Physician Assistant Program
James Van Rhee
The Feinberg School will offer a Physician Assistant Program that will have as its academic home the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Pending a successful provisional accreditation visit in December 2009 and positive review by the Accreditation Review Commission in March 2010, the program will welcome its first class of 30 students in June 2010.
The Feinberg PA Program, only the fifth program in Illinois, will help meet the need for primary care providers and the growing demand for PAs as resident physician work hours face potential reductions and efforts mount to control healthcare costs.
James A. Van Rhee, associate professor of family and community medicine, will be the new program director. He comes to Northwestern from Wake Forest University, where he was the chair of the department of physician assistant studies and the PA Program director since 2006. Van Rhee also serves on the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant.
The PA Program will be a two-year master’s degree program, which will include one year of classroom instruction and one year of clinical rotations. The program will utilize problem-based and team-based learning in the curriculum, which is structured in the medical model and designed to complement physician training. Students will have the option of three clinical tracks: primary care, hospital medicine and surgery. The program’s prerequisites include a bachelor’s degree, GRE, 1,000 hours of previous clinical experience and coursework similar to that required for medical school.