Twelve students with diverse backgrounds – from social work to nursing to athletic therapy - and an interest in providing high-quality patient care recited their Hippocratic Oath as part of inaugural exercise for the University of Manitoba’s innovative Physician Assistant Education Program.
Offered through the faculties of Medicine and Graduate Studies, it was Canada’s first and remains its only university-based, master’s level Physician Assistant program.
Physician assistants work as part of a health-care team under the supervision and delegation of a physician and will support improved access for Manitoban patients by allowing physicians to focus on more complex patient needs. They work as part of an inter-professional health care team and can perform a wide range of procedures including conducting patient exams, ordering and interpreting diagnostic and therapeutic tests, performing minor procedures and prescribing medications and treatments.
“Physician assistant students are prepared academically and clinically through the PA program to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician,” said Sarah Clarke, Program Director, Physician Assistant Education Program. “They will play an important role in addressing our health care human resource shortages in Manitoba and complement duties traditionally performed by doctors.”
Up to 12 candidates are accepted each year into the university’s Physician Assistant program, a two-year program which includes both classroom-based instruction and clinical training. The Physician Assistant program attracts students from diverse backgrounds including nursing, paramedicine, nutritional science, athletic therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, medicine (international), basic science and community health science. In this year’s class, many have rural and northern experience.
“The University of Manitoba is a leader in the education and training of physician assistants in Canada. We are extremely grateful to the Province of Manitoba for its commitment and support to the Physician Assistant Education Program and fortunate to have the endorsement of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba,” said said Dr. Wil Fleisher, Associate Dean, Office of Medical Education, and a Professor in the University’s Department of Psychiatry.
Once their two years of study in the Physician Assistant program are complete, graduates will receive a Master of Physician Assistant studies degree. After graduation and meeting national certification standards, they will be able to register with the College of Physician and Surgeons of Manitoba and practice in Manitoba in a delegated relationship with physicians.