OHSU celebrates national Physician Assistant Week

October 7, 2014

At OHSU, physician assistants are members of the care team in many settings, from family medicine to neurosurgery, in the hospital, intensive care unit, outpatient clinics, operating rooms, and in clinical research. More than 80 physician assistants are members of the OHSU Faculty Practice Plan – the largest group of licensed independent practitioners in Oregon.

Each year, the physician assistant (PA) profession celebrates national PA week October 6-12. During this time, physician assistants strive to increase awareness of and appreciation for the PA profession.

Students-PA-WeekSarah Liebler, M.S., PA-C, is a PA in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery, and sees patients in the multidisciplinary OHSU Cochlear Implant program. Being in a teaching hospital affords Liebler the chance to work with a variety of students including PA, audiology and medical students, and residents, which she described as mutually beneficial. "It's great that they are able to experience our model of a team-based approach to patient care and the role that PAs play within that team. They can then carry that forward into their own careers as a model for efficient and quality patient care," Liebler said. "It also challenges me to stay current and at my best; their enthusiasm and curiosity is contagious!"

Liebler knew becoming a physician assistant was the answer to her medical calling. After earning her master of physician assistant studies from the OHSU Physician Assistant Program in 2004, she spent seven years in private practice, but said she's glad to be back in academic medicine, particularly OHSU.

Liebler,-Sarah_96x108"I've seen great progress at OHSU in promoting the value of collaboration and offering a multidisciplinary approach to patient care," Liebler said. "The presence of PAs is expanding across OHSU and my department in particular has been a strong advocate for PAs. It's a very positive environment and it's exciting to be a part of it." 

The breadth of options for PAs is well represented at OHSU – and that starts in the classroom. The OHSU PA Program ranked sixth among graduate level PA programs in the nation in the 2011 U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate School rankings. Its graduates have a stellar record of success as first-time takers of the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). From 1999 through 2010, OHSU PA graduates achieved a record of 12 straight years of 100 percent first-time pass rate. In the 17-year history of the program, graduates have achieved a 99.1 percent first-time pass rate.

The OHSU PA Program was established in 1995 with the mission of preparing physician assistants to provide primary care services to rural and urban medically underserved communities. The program graduated its first class in September, 1997. The PA Class of 2014 included 37 graduates, 63 percent of whom had secured a position at the time of graduation. Of those employed at graduation, 87.5 percent will be working in Oregon, and 64 percent will be working in primary care. Read this article for more about the PA Class of 2014.

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Pictured (from top): OHSU PA students celebrate national PA Week; Sarah Liebler, M.S., PA-C