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Albany Med Today

Albany Med Physician Assistant Program Meeting Demand of Growing Health Field

The 42 students entering Albany Medical College’s Physician Assistant Studies Program in January and selected from a record pool of more than 1,000 applicants reflect the increasing quality of those enrolled in Albany Med’s program.

“The increase in applicants, sparked by a growing demand for physician assistants across the country, allows us to be increasingly selective in our admissions,” said David F. Irvine, DHSc, PAC, director of the Center for Physician Assistant Studies. “We are training people who come to us with excellent academic records and significant health care experience, and who promise to be truly exceptional practitioners.”

The number of applicants represents a 12 percent increase over last year, and a 122 percent jump from just five years ago. All incoming students must possess prior health care experience. Compared to other programs, Albany Med’s program, one of the oldest in the country, has a very high first-time certification pass rate and a low student-faculty ratio.

“As the country faces a potential shortage in primary care physicians and increasing pressures to reduce the cost of care delivery, the opportunities for physician assistants are rising,” said Vincent Verdile, MD, ’84, dean of Albany Medical College.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently projected a 38.4 percent growth in physician assistant positions between 2012 and 2022.

First-year student James Dewey, 22, of Horseheads, worked as an EMT and emergency room technician before coming to Albany Medical College.

“Through my experience working in an emergency room, I saw how physician assistants are responsible for a wide scope of practice, and that’s really what drove me into this profession,” Dewey said. “Given its reputation, I knew Albany Med’s program was where I wanted to continue my studies and training.”