University of Utah, DSU partner in new physician assistant program

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A partnership with the University of Utah will offer a new physician assistant program at Dixie State University.

Representatives from both DSU and the U of U are planning a new physician assistant program that will start in May 2018. 

Carole Grady, vice president of academic affairs, said the program will take a while to develop because it’s still ongoing. The partnership is not only between DSU and the U of U, but it also involves Dixie Regional Medical Center.

Grady said the partnership involves Dixie Regional Medical Center because DSU needs their physicians to be willing to help the students in the program, and they are. 

Dr. Steven Van Norman, chief medical officer at Dixie Regional Medical Center, said people from the center “look forward to the strength future graduates will bring to local healthcare in the coming years.”

Only 15 students will be accepted into the program initially, and if things go well, over time there might be a possibility of increasing the number of students that can be enrolled, Grady said. 

“The students will typically go through several months of classroom experiences, and then they will have preceptor experiences in the community with physicians,” Grady said.

Caylie Hancock, a freshman nursing major from Bountiful, said she thinks this program is a great opportunity, and students who have an interest in the medical field should take advantage of the program.

“It’s broadening the medical field and giving the students at DSU different opportunities,” Hancock said.

It took some “good connections” to start a partnership with the U of U, and it ended up benefiting both universities, Grady said. 

“From [the U of U’s] perspective, it gives them the opportunity to serve a part of the state that they haven’t been able to serve before,” she said.

Grady said this partnership will bring more opportunities in the near future with the U of U and also other universities.

DSU representatives are thinking about partnering up with the U of U again to offer its physical therapy program on campus.

“Outside of the health sciences area, [DSU] is partnering with Utah State University,” Grady said. “In January, they are going to offer their Executive [Master of Business Administration] program on our campus.”

DSU will also have its first opportunity to provide one of its programs to another college’s campus.

“We are just entering into discussions, with sort of a reverse idea, where we have been approached by Salt Lake Community College to offer our respiratory therapy program on its campus,” she said.

Grady said this partnership can provide a good example to other institutions.

“Sometimes we think the colleges and universities in Utah compete with each other; in some respects they do,” she said. “But on the other hand, this is a great example of the cooperation and collaboration that can happen among institutions.”