ORANGE, Calif. – As part of Chapman University’s growing interest in health sciences, the university has appointed Michael Estrada, MS, DHSc, PA-C, as the founding director for its Physician Assistant Studies (PA) Program in the Schmid College of Science and Technology. Announced earlier this year, the new PA Program anticipates matriculating the inaugural cohort of students in fall of 2015 pending provisional accreditation. Estrada will lead the program through a rigorous accreditation process, build curriculum and assessment systems, and procure program faculty. Prior to coming to Chapman, Estrada was Associate Professor and Academic Coordinator of the Riverside Community College District Physician Assistant Program in Moreno Valley, CA.

“We are thrilled Mike has decided to join our team and lead us into this new venture,” said Janeen Hill, Ph.D., dean, Schmid College of Science and Technology. “We see a bright future for the graduates of the PA program and a need for more PAs in the future.”

The proposed Masters of Medical Science Physician Assistant Studies curriculum will be a 24 month full-time curriculum that is designed so that the material presented serves as a foundation for subsequent learning. The curriculum will be divided into 12 months of Clinical Preparatory Instruction (academic year I) and 12 months of supervised Clinical Practice (clinical year II).   The PA program will be located on Chapman’s campus in Irvine, purchased last year, which will also house the new School of Pharmacy, as well as the Department of Physical Therapy.

“My vision for the new PA program is three-fold,” explained Dr. Estrada. “First, I want to increase access to healthcare so that graduates of the program provide healthcare to medically underserved communities; second I want them to have a strong base in primary care which will enable them to practice in any setting and lastly I would like graduates to lead, promote and empower their local and global communities.”

Dr. Estrada received his Physician Assistant education from the University of Southern California (USC), his Master’s degree in Education and Leadership and completed his doctorate degree at A.T. Still University in Mesa, AZ. Estrada gained experience as a health care provider working for several private and public medical clinics in medically underserved areas throughout Southern California. He has also served in several leadership and supervisory roles, and is the current Committee on Diversity Chair for the California Academy of Physician Assistants (CAPA).  Dr. Estrada has research interests that focus on education, multiculturalism, systems thinking and organizational behavior. He was selected as faculty of the year 2010-2011 at Moreno Valley College and served as the assistant chair to the department of Health, Human and Public Services.

According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants website www.AAPA.org:

A physician assistant (PA) is a licensed medical professional who works as part of a team with an M.D. A PA is a graduate of an accredited PA educational program who is nationally certified and state-licensed to practice medicine with the supervision of a physician. PAs perform medical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret lab tests, perform procedures, assist in surgery, provide patient education and counseling and make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes. All 50 states permit PAs to practice and prescribe medications.

There are currently 173 accredited PA programs in the United States. The vast majority award masters degrees. PA education programs are represented by the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) and accredited through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

The PA profession was created to improve and expand healthcare. The PA concept was lauded early on and gained acceptance and backing federally as early as the 1970s as a creative solution to physician shortages. The medical community helped support the profession and spurred setting accreditation standards, establishing a national certification and standardized examination, and developing continuing medical education requirements.

“The healthcare system is changing from its traditional model” said Dr. Estrada “to an inter-professional, patient centered team approach.”

Consistently ranked among the top universities in the West, Chapman University provides a uniquely personalized and interdisciplinary educational experience to highly qualified students. Our programs encourage innovation, creativity and collaboration, and focus on developing global citizen-leaders who are distinctively prepared to improve their community and their world. Visit www.chapman.edu

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