By Patricia Daddona
PBN Staff Writer
By Patricia Daddona
PBN Staff Writer
(Updated, Feb. 3, 10:42 a.m.)
SMITHFIELD – Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley on Friday said the university will establish a School of Health Sciences within the year that will be anchored by a graduate physician assistant program set to start in January 2015.
Moving consciously into the health care field as educators is “consistent with our historic past in that we try and leverage what we do well for new market needs,” Machtley said. “That’s been the hallmark of our success for 150 years. And we will try and graduate people who will have excellent academic and clinical skills in the health care industry.”
A $6 million addition to the Unistructure building on campus will house the Physician Assistant Learning Center, and the university will break ground on that structure in May, Machtley said.
Machtley expects the master’s degree physician assistant program, for which key faculty have been hired, to be granted provisional status in the fall and be accredited in two years. The first students who apply this April will start in January 2015 and graduate in April 2017.
The proposed School of Health Sciences will supplement an already offered master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in health care, and eventually will offer an undergraduate business degree with a minor in health care analytics, he said. A center for economic policy in health care will also be established, he said.
“The school will begin to roll out additional programs and start enrolling students and augmenting staff as soon as we have made a determination of what the programs are and if there is a legitimate need,” Machtley said. “We’ll hopefully have that within a year.”
The school will bring together resources and faculty that the university already has in place, he said.
Health care is an important area of future growth for the university, Machtley said, noting that according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce, nearly one-fifth of the United States’ real gross domestic product is connected to health care. Conversations with the university’s board of directors have confirmed the sense “that we should utilize our expertise in our business school to be involved in health care analytics and management,” he said.
“As we talked through it, we realized to really become knowledgeable in the managed care side of health care that we needed to be in the health care clinical space.”
The physician assistant program also will benefit from affiliations with Care New England and Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School, he said.
Three faculty have been hired for the physician assistant program, with four more to come, he added.
Under the terms of the agreement between Bryant and Brown, physician assistant students at Bryant will complete the majority of the first year’s preclinical study in the new facility on Bryant’s Smithfield campus and study the foundational human anatomy course at the Alpert Medical School in Providence.
Bryant students will gain access to Brown’s medical library resources – both physical and online. Brown and Bryant will facilitate adjunct appointments for faculty to attract educators to teach Byrant physician assistant master’s degree students, Machtley said.
In their second year, the Bryant physician assistant students will take part in 15 months of hands-on training through specialty rotations provided by Bryant’s clinical partners, including the Care New England Health System, as well as the Southcoast Health System, the Lifespan health system, and independent clinical providers throughout southern New England, he said.
The School of Health Sciences will be independent of Bryant’s College of Business and College of Arts and Sciences. Shared resources will connect it to existing programs in both of the two colleges and multiple centers and institutes on campus, including the Center for Advanced Applied Analytics.