SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College students in training to become physician assistants will begin completing clinical rotations at facilities within the Sisters of Providence Health System following a new agreement between SPHS and the college’s Physician Assistant (PA) Program.
Officials from both institutions formally announced the partnership on Oct. 3 at the Fuller Arts Auditorium on the Springfield College campus, site of the annual White Coat Ceremony, in which students take an oath of practice before embarking on their clinical training. Robert Simpson, chief operating officer of the SPHS Behavioral Health Care Network, delivered the keynote address.
“Physician assistants play an increasingly vital role in the delivery of health care here in Western Mass. and in communities across the country,” said Simpson. “Springfield College provides one of the top academic programs for the training of physician assistants in the country. SPHS is delighted to become an educational partner with such an outstanding program.”
Physician assistants are health care professionals who practice medicine in partnership with physicians, exercising various degrees of autonomy in providing a broad range of health care services in all medical disciplines. Each year, about 30 students graduate from Springfield College’s PA program.
Training includes six weeks of clinical experience in each of seven medical specialty areas (42 weeks total), including pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, emergency medicine, behavioral health, family medicine, and inpatient or “hospitalist” medicine.
Springfield College was recently re-accredited for the next six years by the Accreditation Review Committee for the Education of Physician Assistants (ARC-PA).
“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with a health system dedicated to the care of people in the community,” said Jennifer Hixon, program director of the Physician Assistant Program at Springfield College. “We’re honored to engage with SPHS and their outstanding clinical sites, and we look forward to expanding our relationships into the entire Catholic Health East system.”