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For Immediate Release March 30, 2016

UM Shore Regional Health has undertaken an exciting new initiative that will bring physician assistants students to work and learn in the health care system’s five-county region: the Physician Assistant Leadership Rotation Program in partnership with Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) and University of Maryland at Baltimore (UMB).

Through this year-long rotation program, UM SRH physicians in diverse disciplines will serve as preceptors for students in the AACC and UMB combined Physician Assistant/Master of Science in Health Science program.  The physician preceptors are: Walt Atha, MD – Emergency Medicine, Kim Herman, MD – Family Medicine, Mark Langfitt, MD – Pediatrics, Elena Tilly, MD – Medicine, Andrew Pelczar, MD – Surgery, Eric Anderson, MD – Psychiatry, and Aisha Siddiqui, MD – Obstetrics/Gynecology
Seven students arrived last week and completed an intensive orientation, meeting and learning from UM SRH clinical leaders in such key areas as risk management, infection control, medical records, Meditech and Epic. They also enjoyed a tour of UM SRH hospitals and other facilities in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties.

Upon completion of their Rotation, the students will graduate with a Master of Science in Health Science from UMB and a Certificate of Physician Assistant Studies from AACC, and will be eligible to sit for the national certification exam for physician assistants.

Physician Assistants are playing an increasingly important role in making quality, patient-centered health care accessible to our growing population. In 2014, the New York Times reported that physician assistant (PA) is one of the fastest-growing professions in the United States; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of PAs is expected to increase 38 percent between 2012 and 2022 and more than 6,500 new physicians assistants graduate every year from a total of nearly 200 accredited master's programs nationwide.

According to William Huffner, chief medical officer and senior vice president, Medical Affairs for UM SRH, there are important benefits to the system’s engagement in the PA Program Rotation. 

"This is wonderful opportunity for our physicians to engage in the training and development of a new generation of health care providers and to share with them the outstanding physician expertise, clinical resources and career options in our five-county region," Huffner explains. "Furthermore, many PA graduates make employment choices during their clinical rotation. Our hope is that preceptors and other clinical staff will develop relationships with these students that will encourage them to seek employment in our five-county region, where so many physician practices and specialties struggle to compete with metropolitan health care providers for qualified PA candidates.”

Physician assistant students welcomed by UM Shore Regional Health: Seven students enrolled in the AACC and UMB Physician Assistant /M.S. in Health Science program were welcomed by their physician preceptors at a dinner at the Tidewater Inn on March 24. Shown are (l. to r.): Bo Wilkinson; Mark Langfitt, MD; Melissa Hastings; Aisha Siddiqui, MD; Shivangi Patel; Saskia Rupnarian, Walter Atha, MD; Richard Turney, Chantalle Jackson and Benjamin Flowers.