Baptist and Methodist Partner with CBU to Increase Number of Physician Assistants

Memphis – Three community leaders have forged a partnership to address the critical and growing demand for quality healthcare services within the Metropolitan Memphis area. Baptist Memorial Health Care and Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare have donated $125,000 each to Christian Brothers University’s new Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program, which admitted its first cohort of students in January of this year.

As the first university within 100 miles of Memphis to offer this degree, CBU is providing students with a unique opportunity to serve the community and address the increasing demand for healthcare services due to a shortage of doctors in practice. Memphis has long been home to a thriving healthcare community yet, one important element has been absent – an educational program for Physician Assistants, the second fastest growing profession in the U.S. as noted by Newsweek magazine.

“As the population ages with more health needs and a looming physician shortage, the need for providers such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners grows. Christian Brothers University has a great reputation of producing well-prepared students, so it was a natural for MLH and BMHCC to partner to support the program,” endorses Mitch Graves, president of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s Affiliated Services Division. “Over the last two years, Methodist has acquired and partnered with a number of physician practices and quickly identified the need for additional PAs and NPs.”

The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) has challenged the profession to contribute 240,000 practicing PAs by the year 2020 to meet increasing demands for primary care providers in the U.S. Graduates of CBU’s PA program will help to close this gap and allow physicians to reach a greater number of patients, which is desperately needed in Memphis, where many neighborhoods are medically underserved.

“Educating the next generation of healthcare workers is very important to us,” notes Greg Duckett, senior vice president and corporate counsel for Baptist Memorial Health Care. “We are proud to partner with Methodist and Christian Brothers University to expand the educational opportunities available for future physician assistants.”

Physician assistants are licensed to practice medicine, issue prescriptions, and practice in all medical fields including primary care, internal medicine and subspecialties, as well as surgical and emergency care. The PA’s scope of practice may also include education, research, and administrative services.

“By establishing the first PA program in the region, CBU has taken an active role to address the shortage of physicians,” stated Dr. John Smarrelli Jr., president of CBU. “We are confident that this partnership with Baptist and Methodist will contribute to meeting the healthcare needs of the Memphis community are met.”

Applications are currently being accepted for the program’s next cohort that begins January 2013.  For more admission requirements and to learn more about CBU’s PA program, visit or call (901) 321-3388.

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