Physician assistant program expands to Traverse City

gabriella patti

Grand Valley State University is set to expand its physician assistant studies program to Traverse City starting in fall 2015.

The department chair of physician assistant studies, Andrew Booth, said that the program’s emphasis is to train physician assistants to provide primary care in under-served areas.

“Our goal is to provide education and training for people from that area with the hope that they will go and continue to work there in areas of greatest need,” he said.

There will be 12 new students in the Traverse City program. The Grand Rapids program currently has 48 students but will be decreasing to 36 once the 12 students are enrolled.

GVSU’s Traverse City program has an established presence at Northwestern Michigan College University Center, Booth said. The masters of physician assistant studies program will be added to the list of available GVSU programs at the university center.

Booth said that because of GVSU’s presence, this is a great opportunity to use infrastructure already in place. He said that the satellite campus will use ITV, a remote site classroom video system and classrooms in both locations will be able to share lectures in real time.

“When we give a lecture down here or up there it can be live-streamed to the other site,” Booth said.

GVSU will be the only university in the state to have a satellite program like this, Booth said. 

Theresa Bacon-Baguley, associate dean of research, said that the area is in dire need of primary care providers, and the program will meet shortages that the state of Michigan is seeing.

“There is a shortage of health care providers in primary care through the state of Michigan,” Bacon-Baguley said. “That encompasses physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Physician assistant is just one of the team that can provide that care.”

Research shows that if physician assistants are trained where they are living, they will be more likely to stay and work in that area, Booth said. He added that there is a great need for healthcare providers in lower Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

Bacon-Baguley said that two additional faculty members have been hired to fortify this expanding program. She said that both have worked in the area and are familiar with the needs of the medical community.

“They know the area and know the needs of lower Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula,” Bacon-Baguley said.

She added that the program will benefit these areas of Michigan twofold.

“One, it provides education to the population in the region where they don’t have to travel to Grand Rapids and Allendale,” Bacon-Baguley said. “They can obtain education closer to home. Secondly, it will benefit the region by providing medical care to citizens who reside in the area.”

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