Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from Frostburg State University, Allegany College of Maryland, Allegany County Board of Education and a few others to discuss the potential opportunity to bring a Physician’s Assistant (PA) program to Western Maryland. Currently, there are only three programs in Maryland and none in Western Maryland. The group heard a presentation by James Cawley, who is a professor at George Washington University, one of the country's leading PA schools.
Although it would take almost two years to develop such a program, it has great potential for our region. Physician's Assistants, along with other advanced practice professionals such as Nurse Practitioners, are in high demand as the number of physicians continues to decline nationwide. The mean salary in the US for a PA is $102,000 annually and the 6500 students graduating from PA schools are always in high demand, especially those who graduate with a focus in primary care. There are currently over 90K PAs nationwide and 65% are now female. Forty seven percent of PAs are hospital based and 33% are in primary care.
The outcome of the meeting was to pursue the opportunity through a feasibility study led by Frostburg State University. Such a program could certainly be a win, win, win for the students in the region, the college and university as well as for the providers.