Northwestern Medicine

Northwestern University Physician Assistant students train at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital

Lake Forest Hospital July 06, 2011

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Physician Assistant (PA) Program has expanded to include Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital as one of its clinical training sites. This month, several physician assistant students enrolled in the two-year program began working with Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest physicians in several areas of practice as part of their clinical rotations.

LAKE FOREST, IL – Physician Assistants are clinicians who work in partnership with physicians to provide patient care, including examination, diagnosis, testing and treatment. They practice in almost every area of medicine, helping to improve patient access to healthcare.

The Northwestern University PA training program brings an educational component to Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, furthering the ongoing collaboration between Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern Medicine  Lake Forest Hospital. In 2010, Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest began to train residents in its Emergency Department, making the hospital a teaching institution.

“The clinical aspect of this program is integral to teaching students the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to respond positively to the challenges and opportunities of future trends in health care delivery,” said Jim Van Rhee, MS, PA-C, Northwestern University’s PA Program Director and Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. “Our partnership with the finest institutions throughout Chicagoland will allow our students to learn these skills from top physicians and other members of the healthcare team.”

Becoming a physician assistant is one of the top medical careers of this decade and is currently the fastest growing medical job, as PAs work with physicians and facilities in nearly every field of medicine. The Department of Labor indicates that employment of physician assistants is expected to grow by 39 percent from 2008 to 2018, as stated in the 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook printed by the US Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor of Statistics. The US News and World Report magazine ranked the profession among the top 30 Best Careers in 2009.

“Physician assistants are extremely valuable members of any healthcare team,” said Sharon Blattner, Assistant Professor and Clinical Coordinator of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Program. “Their broad training allows them to work with and complement physicians in all practices, and they are widely considered an asset to hospitals and physicians working toward a solution for healthcare reform.”

The program admitted its first class of 30 PA students in June 2010. It includes a one-year classroom component, followed by 12 months of clinical rotations in several core domains, including internal medicine, family medicine, psychiatry, hospitalists, emergency medicine, women’s health, pediatrics and general surgery. Students also have the opportunity to work with physicians in elective rotations of their choice, including primary care, dermatology, plastic surgery, cardiology, internal medicine, subspeciality surgery and other domains.

Northwestern University’s Physician Assistant Program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission for Education of Physician Assistants. Its first class of physician assistant students will graduate in May 2012.

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