Posted Online: March 26, 2014, 10:28 pm

St. Ambrose University gets green light for first physician assistant cohort

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By Anthony Watt, awatt@qconline.com

DAVENPORT -- St. Ambrose University has received a preliminary accreditation that will allow it to begin graduate-level training of physician assistants.

Physician assistants can perform several tasks, including collecting medical histories, doing exams, assisting in surgery, and prescribing medications. They usually perform in close partnership with the physician with whom they work, according to the university.

SAU announced in 2012 that it was putting together the master's program. At that time, the university said many areas of the United States, including many Iowa counties, do not have enough primary care providers -- family physicians, pediatricians and other medical professionals -- and the shortage is expected to increase in coming decades. The physician assistant program is designed to help ease that shortage.

The initial accreditation is from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, and will allow the university to begin teaching its first group of 30 physician assistant graduate students in June.

Requirements for the program include having an undergraduate degree, completion of prerequisite courses; and at least 500 hours of experience in health care, according to the university.

Full accreditation will be granted upon successful graduation of the first group, the university said. Eventually, the university hopes to be teaching three 30-student groups simultaneously.

SAU will begin accepting applications for the next group on April 17, according to the university. Instructions and more information is available at sau.edu/mpas.