News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

September 5, 2008

FIRST-IN-CANADA PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROGRAM BEGINS NEXT WEEK AT UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA



Twelve University of Manitoba students are set to begin classes in Canada’s first university-based, graduate-level physician assistant program, Health Minister Theresa Oswald and Advanced Education and Literacy Minister Diane McGifford announced today.
 
“Until now, the only accredited physician assistant program in Canada has been offered through the Canadian Forces,” said Oswald.  “Through this new university program, these highly skilled health-care professionals will be educated here in Manitoba and will soon be in our health workforce, caring for patients in a wide range of clinical settings.”
 
The physician assistant program will create a new annual stream of highly trained health professionals who will complement duties traditionally performed by doctors. Physician assistants can perform a wide range of procedures including conducting patient exams, ordering diagnostic tests, undertaking minor procedures and prescribing needed medications and treatments.
 
Physician assistants work as part of a health-care team under the supervision and delegation of a physician and will support improved access for Manitoban patients by allowing physicians to focus on more complex patient needs.
 
“This is a groundbreaking, first-of-its kind course and an innovative way to deliver more highly educated health professionals to the places they’re needed most,” McGifford said.
 
Up to 12 candidates will be accepted each year into the university’s new physician assistant program, a two-year faculty of medicine program which includes both lectures and clinical-care courses.  Once completed, graduates will receive a master of physician assistant studies degree from the faculty of graduate studies.  The province has provided $3.24 million in funding to the university to offer the new program.
 
“The Physician Assistant Education Program is a nationally groundbreaking academic innovation and will enhance both the breadth and depth of our capacity to deliver progressive medical and health care to Manitobans,” said Dr. Wil Fleisher, associate dean of medical education in the faculty of medicine.  “Its coming to fruition demonstrates our province’s foresight and commitment to excellence in health care.”
 
Once students graduate, and after they meet national certification standards, they will be able to register with the College of Physician and Surgeons of Manitoba and practise in Manitoba in a delegated relationship with physicians.  Currently, Manitoba is the only Canadian province with legislation in place to allow physician assistants to register and practise.
 
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