Austin College readies new health campus classes
DENISON, Texas (KTEN) — Austin College will be welcoming 34 new students to its Physician Assistant program next June.
"We were able to hire six full-time faculty," said Dr. Diana Noller, the founding director of the program and an Associate Professor of Medical Science. "We have a medical director who's a family medical physician in the local area, and we've had about 1,100 applications for 34 seats in the program."
The project took around two years to put together at its new health campus next to Texoma Medical Center.
"On average, it's about $3 to $4 million of an investment, and it's a big investment, because when you start, you don't know if you'll gain accreditation," Noller said. "We just found out that we were granted accreditation from the ARC-PA [Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant]."
These students are earning masters degrees and getting to work at different clinics around Texoma. There is classroom learning at the new health campus, as well as different spaces for hands-on learning, where students get to practice their skills on each other before heading out to the real world.
"Get comfortable and develop that rapport with patients and that communication," said Angela Banuelas, Director of Experimental Learning and Mediation. "That is something that is foreign to students, so it takes a while to ... learn your physical skills, but then learn your people skills."
Austin College says the need for health care providers is seen in Texoma, and physician assistants are taught to be able to fill in wherever they're needed.
"By having PA's here, it will really bridge the gaps and touch the lives of patients," Banuelas said.
More than 100 medical partners will act as clinical sites, including Texoma Medical Center, Medical City, UT-Southwestern, Baylor Scott & White, and many independent practices.