Student & Alumni Affairs

Physician Assistants May Ease Coming Provider Shortage Provider Shortage

By 2025--less than nine years from now--the US will face a shortage of somewhere between 61,700 to 94,700 physicians. This prediction in a 2016 study by the American Academy of Medical Colleges isn't simply a wake-up call. The alarm has been ringing for years.

Schools of medicine and health professions have geared up to educate more students, but would-be future physicians and physician extenders, including physician assistants and nurse practitioners, are running into the same bottleneck--the cap on support for federally funded clinical rotation training.

"We've had 1,500 applications for only 90 slots," James R. Kilgore, PhD, PA-C, DFAAPA, director of the physician assistant program in the UAB School of Health Professions, said. "In expanding the program from 60 to 90 students, one of our biggest challenges was securing clinical training opportunities. The limiting factor isn't a lack of qualified applicants or schools that want to train them. The problem is a lack of clinical rotation sites and the funding to support them." 

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Dual graduate degree program combines physician assistant and public health leadership studies

Campaign halfwayphysician assistantMSPAS graduate, Carl Frizell (left) gains clinical experience with guidance from PA Stephanie McGilvray (center). The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Health Professions and School of Public Health are partnering to offer graduate students a dual degree in Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and Master of Public Health.

“We are looking forward to the group of incoming students who will participate in this dual degree program beginning spring 2017,” said Max Michael, M.D., dean of the UAB School of Public Health. “The joint program prepares students pursuing the MSPAS degree for leadership roles that address public health care needs.”

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Firehouse guysFirehouse Shelter ClinicThe men who walk into the Firehouse Shelter in Birmingham are people just like us. They suffer the same illnesses just like us. But that is really where the comparisons end.

Homeless people are:

  • 3 to 4 times more likely to die prematurely.
  • 3 times more likely to have heart disease.
  • 2 times more likely to suffer stroke or heart attack.

Their life on the streets is brutal. No stable shelter. No stable food. No stable income. And no stable health care options - until now.
caitlyn kendrickCaitlyn KendrickWe sent questions to some of the UAB Physician Assistant Studies program students who volunteer at the School of Health Professions' Firehouse Shelter Clinic. We wanted to know more about them, the current PA program and why they serve. This spotlight is Caitlyn Kendrick.

Why did you choose UAB PA?

Caitlyn Kendrick: UAB offers a very involved and unique program that I knew would make me well rounded and prepared once I graduate. Also, the faculty’s positive attitude and encouragement made me confident that UAB was a good fit for me.

What inspires you to become a PA?

Cristina PardinasCristina Pardinas at White Coat CeremonyWe sent questions to some of the UAB Physician Assistant Studies program students who volunteer at the School of Health Professions' Firehouse Shelter Clinic. We wanted to know more about them, the current PA program and why they serve. This spotlight is Cristina Pardinas.

What inspires you to become a PA?

Cristina Pardinas: My family, my friends, my community all inspire me to want to become a PA. I aim to help those who need it the most, I desire to take all that I have learned and give it to those in need. The motivation and drive my family and friends give me and the notion of helping my future patients all inspire me to want to become the best PA I can be.

Advice for future students?

Ebony BatesEbony BatesWe sent questions to some of the UAB Physician Assistant Studies program students who volunteer at the School of Health Professions' Firehouse Shelter Clinic. We wanted to know more about them, the current PA program and why they serve. This spotlight is Ebony Bates.

Favorite part of the PA program?

Ebony Bates: I actually have two things. The first are the labs-cadaver and pig, and secondly, is the staff. Not only are they hilarious and make this fun but also very empathetic to individual needs.

Toughest part of the PA program?

Ebony Bates: For me I would say the toughest part would have to be balance-trying to find a balance between classes, studying, family and social life.  It can all be done, but you may have to re-prioritize certain things and make sure you're disciplined.

Why was volunteering at the Firehouse Shelter important to you?

Christophe JacksonChristophe JacksonWe sent questions to some of the UAB Physician Assistant Studies program students who volunteer at the School of Health Professions' Firehouse Shelter Clinic. We wanted to know more about them, the current PA program and why they serve.

This spotlight is Christophe Jackson, Ph.D., who has been featured in the UAB Magazine article "The Science of Song" and B-Metro's "Keystrokes".

Favorite part of the PA program?

Christophe Jackson: My favorite part of PA program is the rigorous training and connection to applying real knowledge directly into clinical care. PA are trained to be able to handle a broad variety of medical and clinical settings. I like that PAs are trained to be the MacGyver of the medical profession to bridge the gaps between patient care and working collaboratively as an integrative member of the medical team.

Toughest part of the PA program?

We sent questions to some of the UAB Physician Assistant Studies program students who volunteer at the School of Health Professions' Firehouse Shelter Clinic. We wanted to know more about them, the current PA program and why they serve.

This spotlight is Bellamy Hawkins.

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Why did you choose UAB PA?

Bellamy Hawkins: I grew up in Birmingham, went to high school at Briarwood Christian High School and then attended college at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. After I finished college, I felt led to pursue a degree in public health and I came to UAB to get a Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology. I decided to apply to PA school while getting my MPH because I desired more patient care interaction and involvement in health care decisions.

Where will we see you in 20 years?