Featured Associate: Missouri State University
The Physician Assistant Studies Department & Program is housed on the main campus of Missouri State University (MSU) in Springfield, Missouri. The 24-month program was founded by Patti Ragan, PhD, MPH, PA-C and first accredited in October 1999. Dr. Ragan’s program director leadership was followed by Steve Dodge, MD and then Roberto Canales, DHSc, MS, PA-C. This stable leadership has served students, faculty, staff, and the community well.
Missouri State University is a public comprehensive metropolitan system and is distinguished by its public affairs mission, which entails a campus-wide commitment to foster expertise and responsibility in ethical leadership, cultural competence and consciousness, and community engagement. This is reflected in the program’s mission as well as its goals and outcomes.
The program’s inaugural class had 17 graduates and now there are approximately 30 graduates every year. The five-core faculty are all PA trained and so is the program director. There are also three support staff and seven additional instructional didactic faculty. This favorable student-faculty ratio allows the program to focus on student learning. The institution also provides generous support which aides in providing many academic resources to faculty and students (i.e., simulation center, skill workshops, AccessMedicine, Rosh Review, Aquifer, PAEA assessment exams, ExamSoft) and many community service opportunities.
Although Springfield, MO is a small city surrounded by many rural communities, the metropolitan area has over 400,000 people. Because of this, Springfield serves as the medical hub for southwest Missouri and thus has two major health care systems and two level one trauma centers. This along with the culture of the Midwest and support from clinical partners affords the program the ability to prepare graduates to serve in areas of need, particularly in rural and inner-city health professional shortage areas while having the option to experience “big city” health care.
The program is housed in the new O’Reilly Clinical Health Center where the MSU Care clinic is also located. MSU Care is a joint venture between the university and Mercy Hospital Springfield and provides uninsured low-income adults patients, ages 18-64 years of age primary care services. The MSU Care clinic is also where program students volunteer their services during their first year of training and have the option to complete a 6-week rotation during the second year.