An affiliation agreement was signed December 28 between the Primary Care

Physician Assistant Program at Western University of Health Sciences

(WesternU) in Pomona, Calif., and Southwest Medical Associates in Las

Vegas. Earlier last month agreements were finalized between WesternU and

two other Las Vegas medical organizations: Pulmonary Associates and

Community Health Centers of Southern Nevada.

The three companies join several other Nevada health care organizations

partnering with the University, including University Medical Center, St.

Rose Dominican Hospital, Clark County Health District, Canyon Orthopedic

and New Life Cardiology; as well as more than 35 primary care and

specialty physicians in the Las Vegas area. The affiliation agreements

will allow WesternU to incorporate a new Southern Nevada Clinical Rotation

Track into its clinical rotation program for physician assistant students.

Currently, most of WesternU’s PA students stay in California to complete

the hands-on portion of their studies. The Las Vegas affiliations will

allow them to expand and specialize their experiences, especially as

University Medical Center is the only Level 1 trauma center in southern

Nevada and Southwest Medical Associates is Nevada’s largest multi-

specialty group practice.

“”It is very advantageous for students to have the opportunity to do

rotations in Nevada because laws governing PAs differ slightly from state

to state,”” said Roy Guizado, PA-C, chair of the department of physician

assistant education at WesternU. “”Southern Nevada has had a significant

influx in their population, and it’s WesternU’s goal to be able to select

students from the Nevada area and train them to provide health care in

Nevada’s primary care setting.””

WesternU currently offers a two-year physician assistant certificate

program, which will change to a master’s degree level beginning with the

fall 2000 entering class. The curriculum is designed so that students

learn important medical skills in a classroom setting during their first

year, and then spend their second year completing a series of clinical

rotations in various medical settings to apply what they’ve learned. The

Southern Nevada Clinical Rotation Track will be made available to a

portion of the school’s second-year students in the fall.

WesternU opened a regional office in Las Vegas in 1998 to explore

expansion of the clinical portion of the school’s PA program into Nevada.

The past year has been dedicated to laying the groundwork to establish

medical center affiliations to aid the University’s second-year PA

students in clinical rotations.

Although it is fairly common for PA programs to offer out-of-state

clinical rotations to students, it is rare for a health professions

university to establish an out-of-state rotational site as WesternU has.

“”Because of the growing residential population in southern Nevada, there’s

a real need in the community for more physician assistants to staff

clinics and emergency rooms,”” said Janet Wheble, the Las Vegas clinical

coordinator for WesternU’s Primary Care Physician Assistant Program. “”If

we can help place more students in Las Vegas rotations it will help fill

the need for quality health care providers in southern Nevada.””

For more information on the PA program at WesternU, contact (909) 469-5378.