Students celebrate first National Physician Assistant Week

Students in Dominican’s new Physician Assistant program celebrated National Physician Assistant Week.

Dominican launched its Master of Science Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) program this summer at a time when the employment of physician assistants is projected to grow 30 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. A recent Forbes article, which draws on data from The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, states that California is among the states where PA salaries are rising the fastest, with a median salary of $105,000.

Dominican's School of Health and Natural Sciences received 369 applications for the initial cohort of 24 students. Enrollment will grow to 30 students per cohort in fall 2018 and 40 students per cohort beginning fall 2019 and ongoing.

The program has drawn a wide range of interest from students prepared to work in the healthcare sector. One of them is Chantilay Ruffin ‘19, who was a hospital corpsman for the U.S. Navy for nine years stationed in San Diego. She was working in infectious disease and pediatrics departments, prior to being stationed on a humanitarian ship. It was there she was deployed on a four-month humanitarian mission to Asia when she decided to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant, which was later confirmed during the PA program in the Navy.

Last December, when Chantilay separated from the Navy, she wanted to continue her PA education. She was excited to learn about Dominican and its new PA program. The timing was right.

“This school is kind of amazing. It’s a little smaller, but it is literally amazing,” says Chantilay, who earned her BA in Psychology from UC Riverside in 2007 and a BS in PA studies from UNMC in 2015. “I love it. It’s more of a welcoming, supportive type of environment. It was a welcomed change.”

After moving in January from San Diego to Riverside, she worked at Loma Linda University Medical Center as a Medical Transcriptioner in Pediatric Surgery, Chantilay has settled in Marin County with her 12-year-old daughter. The PA program at Dominican has been a perfect fit.

“I really enjoy their systematic approach,” Chantilay says. “They introduce some of the basics in the beginning to build a foundation instead of frontloading material and having to connect dots later. It’s much smoother in my opinion than the PA training I went through in the military’s schooling where you learn by subject and you have to apply it by system in the following semesters.”

Chantilay’s ultimate goal upon graduation in December of 2019 is to one day form a group practice under one roof near her hometown of Wasco, with multiple specialties within that practice.

“It would be like a one-stop shop for some of the undeveloped areas,” Chantilay says. “If I branch out to multiple underserved areas that would be awesome.”

National Physician Assistant Week, which began October 6, was celebrated at Dominican on October 11, with a lunchtime event and program demonstration on Caleruega Dining Hall Plaza. Students took blood pressure readings and passed out informational material and snacks.


October 6, 2017