Twenty-four students in Milligan’s brand-new physician assistant program, which launched in January, will leave with a master’s degree in physician assistant studies after completing the 28-month program and 108 credit hours.
The inaugural class will graduate in 2020 and head into the workforce as physician’s assistants, and Saturday night was a big step for the students as one-by-one they donned their white coats as they head into the third semester of the program.
Director Andrew Hull described the program as having a didactic phase and a clinical phase of the degree, and the inaugural students are halfway through the classroom phase. They’ll begin their clinical rotations in April.
The maximum class size right now is 26 students, but Hull said he hopes to have close to capacity enrollment moving forward.
“At this point, we will have a new class that begins every January, so we’re going to grow the program that way,” director Andrew Hull said.
Keynote speaker W.T. Mathes graduated from Milligan in 1942 with bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry, and went on to get his medical doctorate and practiced as an ear, nose and throat doctor in Johnson City for more than 50 years.
Mathes dropped tidbits of advice for the future graduates throughout his speech all the while reminding them of their importance to the community as healthcare professionals, something Hull noted before the ceremony.
“I think the community, the state, the country, we’re going to experience a shortage of healthcare providers, and this is going to help fill that gap,” Hull said.
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