Published 02/14/14

PA patient examination lab

Architect's drawing of the patient examination lab to be built in support of Bryant's Physician Assistant Studies program

New School of Health Sciences prepares Bryant students for emerging career opportunities

In business, health care is huge.

There’s the supply side. Health care is the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy, employing over 18 million people. And there’s demand. Americans in 2012 spent a collective $2.8 trillion on health care, from hospital stays to prescription drugs.

"We leverage what we do well for emerging market needs."

Because health care makes such an impact on society and the economy, Bryant University is making a bold move into the sector. Under the strategic direction set by Bryant President Ronald K. Machtley, the University has announced a new School of Health Sciences.

“We leverage what we do well for emerging market needs,” said President Machtley, “That’s been the hallmark of our success for 150 years.” Bryant’s earlier initiatives in health care arena included a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in health care, which ran from 1990 to 1994, and a customized two-year MBA program for Lifespan employees.

image from Physician Assistant Studies site

Inaugural program: Physician Assistant Studies

The School of Health Sciences takes the University further. A state-of-the-art addition to Bryant’s flagship building on the Smithfield campus will house the new school’s inaugural program – the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. A master’s degree in business administration with a health care concentration and a center for economic policy in health care will also be established.

At left, an image from the "Wear the White Coat" campaign

“We’re positioning our programs so that our students can take advantage of the very best career opportunities in this sector,” he said.

Bryant’s graduate program in Physician Assistant Studies will train the next generation of physician assistants, or PAs, to serve on the primary health care team.

PAs practice medicine under the direction of doctors, and take medical histories, conduct physical exams, prescribe medications, and perform other tasks done by doctors.

That’s why they’re in demand. Because PAs extend the medical care that doctors give, they make health care more accessible. They’re also uniquely qualified to offer preventive care and to care for the underserved – key goals of health care reform.

Currently in the process of accreditation, the PA program will begin accepting applications in April. The inaugural class will begin the program in January 2015.

Key health care partners

Robert Jay AmrienProgram Director Robert Jay Amrien, MPAS, PA-C (left), collaborated with key community partners – The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, the Care New England Health System, and the Southcoast Health System – to build a program that puts students at the center.

Bryant's new physician assistant program "will build a healthier Rhode Island."

“Students will be introduced to concepts by the best faculty, learn with the best peers, then apply their new knowledge in small teams,” Amrien said. They also will learn public health and business principles that will give graduates from Bryant’s program “an edge in today’s rapidly changing health care market."

Defining features of Bryant’s program include:

  • strong teams, individual attention, and a supportive learning environment;
  • state-of-the-art facilities, including new classrooms, a high-fidelity simulation laboratory, and a physical exam laboratory;
  • rich and rigorous clinical experiences, with 13 hands-on specialty rotations;
  • a focus on the business of health care, with an introduction to the management principles of medical practice in the program’s second year.

Health care leaders add their praise

Bryant's approach to training PAs is attracting attention. "To excel in health care today, you must have the skills to not only succeed but to maintain a competitive advantage,” said Sandra Coletta, ’88 MBA and chief operating officer of Care New England and CEO of Kent Hospital. “To do that, you must develop depth of knowledge and critical thinking skills. That’s why I got my MBA, and got it at Bryant University. Bryant knows business.”

"Bryant University's new physician assistant program will build a healthier Rhode Island,” said Michael Fine, M.D., director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. "Physician assistants are key players on the primary health care team, and the primary care team is our best defense against disease, and an effective and affordable way to treat it. Bravo, Bryant, for supporting public health.”