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Physician Assistant Program to Partner With Essentia Health

Madison, Wisconsin - In its continuing effort to alleviate the shortage of primary-care physicians in Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and its family medicine department have announced expansion of the physician-assistant training program to include Essentia Health.


The announcement was made today in Ashland at a gathering of community leaders, administration and practitioners from Essentia Health, and representatives from the UW-Madison physician assistant program and UW-Marathon County. 


Essentia has facilities in Ashland, Hayward, Spooner and Superior. 

Under the partnership, Essentia will join a number of other northern Wisconsin sites where physician-assistant students will do clinical rotations as part of their training. 


In May, UW launched the Wisconsin Physician Assistant Community-based Track or wisPACT, which represents partnerships with UW-Marathon County in Wausau and with regional health care systems including Aspirus, Ministry Health Care and the Marshfield Clinic, to expand physician-assistant training to northern Wisconsin.


Currently, 81 students are enrolled in the UW-Madison physician-assistant program, but the wisPACT initiative hopes to increase that number by nearly 30 percent before 2016. 


Physician assistants are qualified to perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, and assist in surgery.  In most states, including Wisconsin, they can prescribe medications.


To maintain national certification, physician assistants are currently required to log 100 hours of continuing education every two years and participate in recertification every six years.


The Wisconsin Hospital Association has predicted the state will need to train as many as 100 new primary care physicians annually through 2030 to make up for a predicted shortfall in pediatricians, internal and family-medicine doctors.  Increasing the number of practicing physician assistants in Wisconsin may help to support the health care needs of the state, particularly in northern and rural communities.

Date Published: 03/21/2013

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Physician Assistant Program to Partner With Essentia Health

Last updated: 04/09/2013
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