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This year marks the graduation of the 400th student in the OHSU Physician Assistant Program

On the beautiful summer afternoon of Saturday, Aug. 11, the OHSU Auditorium and surrounding Mac Hall lawn were filled with smooth jazz and plenty of excitement as the OHSU Physician Assistant Program graduated its 16th class. The 38 students of the PA Class of 2012 were filled with anticipation as the commencement activities began.

This year marked the first graduation ceremony for the PA program's new medical director, Chip Taylor, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine. Dr. Taylor had the honor of helping program director Ted J. Ruback and PA program faculty celebrate the graduation of the program's 400th student – Madele Limpahan. The 26-month PA program was established in 1995 and received its accreditation by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) in 1997.

As health reform takes shape across Oregon and the nation, the role of the physician assistant as a vital member of the health care team will become increasingly important. Approximately 53 percent of OHSU PA program alumni are currently practicing in Oregon.

During the ceremony, two faculty members received awards from the students for their participation in the program. George E. (Ted) Goslow, Jr. Ph.D., visiting professor of Allied Health programs, received the Excellence in Academic Teaching Award for his contributions during the anatomy course; and Adam B. King, M.P.A.S., PA-C, faculty member in the Department of Family Medicine, is the first PA program graduate to receive the James M. Ryan, M.D. Memorial Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching.

Don Pedersen, PA-C, Ph.D., professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine and renowned educator and advocate of the physician assistant profession, gave the commencement address. He spoke to graduates about giving back to the profession, being active participants in their communities and reaching out to those in need through volunteerism.

Student awards went to Kaylie M. Parrish for academic achievement; Joshua P. Smith for excellence in the clinical year; and Sarah M. Voye for her high level of professionalism throughout the program.

The ceremony concluded with a student slide show highlighting their time in the program. A reception on the grounds surrounding the Mac Hall fountain followed.