A Decade and Beyond at the Orlando Physician Assistant Program

The Dr. Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Sciences Anniversary Highlights
Physician Assistant–Orlando

PCHCS 25 years

THE EXPANSION OF the NSU Physician Assistant (PA)  Department led to the establishment of the first PA program in Orlando, Florida, in 2006. In May 2007, the program  accepted its inaugural students for the class of 2009. Since that time, the program has continued to focus on innovation and excellence in PA education, and now has more than 530  graduates practicing medicine.

Class of 2016 students who went on the mission trip to Guatemala.
Class of 2016 students who went on the mission trip to Guatemala.

Shortly after the program’s inception, it became clear there was a high demand for PA education in the local area, so the program applied to the accreditation agency to increase the number of students allowed to matriculate. The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant approved the maximum entering class size increase to 64 students per year—an increase of 10 seats—leading to several classroom renovations in 2009.

Class of 2018 students as they execute ultrasound procedures learned during their recent POCUS training.

The curriculum has evolved since the program’s inception, with a notable improvement in the time and credit hours spent in the medicine and research courses. This evolution occurred through the curriculum committee and the medical expertise of the faculty members, led by the medical director, Melba Ovalle, M.D., and the academic director, Laura Gunder-McClary, D.H.Sc., PA-C.

Along with these changes, several other innovations in the curriculum delivery have occurred. The most significant were the addition of the Anatomage Table and an increase in the utilization of high-fidelity simulation. High-fidelity simulation using the CAE Apollo and Juno mannequins has been added to the physical diagnosis and the clinical medical courses, which cover all major organ systems and allow students to practice their clinical decision-making skills.

You may read more of the PA Orlando establishment and focus on innovation and excellence in PA education in the current 2018 Perspectives Summer/Fall issue on page 52 and 53 by visiting healthsciences.nova.edu/studentaffairs/messenger.html.

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