• Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences initiates collaborative physician assistant program with local universities

Little girl being checked by friendly health professional with stethoscopeCollaboration includes expansion of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Cascade Meadow facility in Rochester

ROCHESTER, Minn. — The Mayo Clinic board of governors approved a proposal to initiate development of a new physician assistant master’s degree program through Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences. The proposal is a collaborative effort between Mayo’s School of Health Sciences and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota to create a comprehensive 3+2 Physician Assistant program to meet future patient needs in the area. The proposed program also includes a collaborative pathway for University of Minnesota Rochester students to participate in the program.

“Innovative educational collaborations will play an essential role in creating the highest quality, patient-centered care,” says Fredric Meyer, M.D., Juanita Kious Waugh Executive Dean for Education, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. “We are committed to developing educational pathways for students that empower them to meet the needs of area patients.”

The 3+2 Physician Assistant program will start the first 24-student cohort at the collaborating universities in fall 2019. A new cohort will be jointly selected for freshman admission each year. Students can become a physician assistant in as little as five years — spending three years studying at the Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Winona Campus or at the University of Minnesota Rochester campus, followed by two years of graduate study in Rochester. The graduate portion of the program will include courses and labs held at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota’s expanding Cascade Meadow facility in Rochester and hands-on clinical experiences at Mayo Clinic. Students successfully completing the program will earn a bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota or the University of Minnesota Rochester, and a master of health sciences degree in physician assistant studies from Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences.

Physician assistants may become a growing part of the medical workforce. By 2025, a shortage of 124,000 primary care physicians is anticipated, with a high percentage in rural areas. Physician assistants are expected to play a pivotal role in primary patient care as health care evolves. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reflects this data, as their predictive models expect 30 percent job growth for physician assistants by 2024, the second-fastest-growing health care profession in the next decade.

“Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences plans new programs to meet the evolving needs of our patients,” says Michael Silber, M.B, Ch.B., Dean, Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences. “We look forward to collaborating with Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota Rochester in developing this comprehensive physician assistant program.”

“This collaboration continues the Saint Mary’s University tradition of excellence in preparing students to lead and serve in the health and sciences professions,” says Brother William Mann, FSC, president, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, which has been based in Winona, Minnesota, since 1912. “Many alumni already work at Mayo Clinic.”

By offering an option for physician assistant students to focus in rural health care settings, the program seeks to ease the lack of available medical care in rural environments. While 20 percent of the American population lives in rural areas, only 10 percent of doctors practice in these areas. Only 4 percent of family medicine training occurs in these areas, further exacerbating the rural health care issue. Physician assistants can help alleviate this issue by performing examinations, and diagnosing and treating patients as part of a closely coordinated care team with physicians.

“This collaborative effort between local institutions of higher education is a shining example of how to work together for the greater good of the community,” says Lori Carrell, Ph.D., vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and Student Development, University of Minnesota Rochester. “Creating pathways for students in high-demand, high-growth fields is critical to ensure healthy, vibrant communities.”

To house the physician assistant program, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota will expand its facilities. In addition to a new Science and Learning Center scheduled to open in spring 2017 on the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota campus in Winona, the university will expand its Cascade Meadow facility in Rochester.

The Cascade Meadow addition — expected to begin in late spring 2017 — includes a nearly 10,000-square-foot space estimated to cost $4.4 million, which has been provided by Jack and Mary Ann Remick of Rochester. The Remicks’ donation includes an additional $600,000 to be used for program development.

The Cascade Meadow expansion will support delivery of the physician assistant program and future allied health offerings. The classrooms and meeting spaces also will be used by Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota adult students in other university graduate degree programs offered in Rochester.

According to Brother Mann, the Remicks are inspirational champions of education and long-time supporters of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. As residents of Rochester, the Remicks say they are dedicated to supporting growth in programming beneficial to the area, including gifts to Mayo Clinic, which is transforming into a global destination for health and wellness. Their gift will attract talented young students to this area, while helping to fulfill a need in the medical community. Mary Ann is chair of the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota board of trustees, having started her work on the board in 2004. Jack previously served on the board from 1999 to 2004. The Remicks established Cascade Meadow in 2011 and transferred ownership to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in 2015.


About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, providing expert, whole-person care to everyone who needs healing. For more information, visit mayoclinic.org/about-mayo-clinic or newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org.

About Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota awakens, nurtures and empowers learners to ethical lives of leadership and service. At Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, students find in every classroom — whether in person or online — a relationship-driven, person-centered education. Through intense inquiry, students discover the truths in the world and the character within. Founded in 1912 and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota enrolls 5,800 students at its residential undergraduate college in Winona and its Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs, based in Minneapolis but extending worldwide. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota offers respected and affordable programs in a variety of areas leading to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as certificates and specialist designations. Learn more at smumn.edu.

About University of Minnesota Rochester
The University of Minnesota Rochester promotes learning and development through personalized education in a technology-enhanced environment. The University of Minnesota Rochester empowers undergraduate and graduate students to be responsible for their own learning and provides appropriate support to prepare them to succeed in a global and multicultural society. The University of Minnesota Rochester serves as a conduit and catalyst for leveraging intellectual and economic resources in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota through its signature academic, research and public engagement programs in collaboration with other campuses of the University of Minnesota, other higher education institutions throughout the state and nation, governmental and nonprofit organizations, and private enterprise.

About Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences
Each year, nearly 1,700 students enroll in more than 130 Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences allied health programs representing 55 health sciences careers. With a low student-to-faculty ratio, every student benefits from world-class instructors, innovative educational methodologies and extensive individualized state-of-the-art training at Mayo Clinic, a premiere academic medical organization. Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences is one of five premiere schools of medical education within Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.

Matthew Brenden, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, newsbureau@mayo.edu

Stacia Vogel, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, 612-728-5119, svogel@smumn.edu

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