Grand Valley received two federal grants totaling more than $2 million to expand its Physician Assistant Studies program.
Wallace Boeve, director and associate professor of physician assistant studies, said a $1.79 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services allows the program to grow from 35 students to 39 students next year, gradually increasing to 48 students by 2014. Boeve said the grant was part of the federal health care reform act to increase the number of health care workers.
Boeve said students who receive a scholarship under this program will agree to go into primary care, working in family practice, internal medicine and pediatrics, among other specialties. The grant also allows for eventual hiring of additional faculty and staff members to support the increase in students.
Roy H. Olsson Jr., dean of the College of Health Professions, said that one component of the grant will be to study the effects of increasing PAS student numbers on the practice of urban and rural physician assistant primary care. The study will look at both initial and long-term primary care practice. “This grant will help ensure that the PAS program continues to attract the best and brightest students,” said Olsson, who wrote the grant with Boeve and PAS faculty members Andrew Booth and Charles DuBose.
The grant was part of the $320 million package from Health and Human Services distributed to universities and hospitals across the country at the end of September. Boeve said 149 universities with PAS programs were eligible to apply for the grants and 28 were successful.
Grand Valley’s PAS program received a second grant of $300,000 from Health and Human Services to enhance technology for the Simulation Center at the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences. The grant came from the federal recovery act.
Boeve said while his department applied for the grant with Jean Nagelkerk, vice provost for Health, all health programs will benefit. “The Simulation Center is designed to be a very interdisciplinary program, so all health professions and nursing students will be able to take advantage of this supportive technology,” he said. PAS faculty members Booth and Theresa Bacon-Baquley helped write the technology grant.