The director of Palm Beach Atlantic’s new Physician Associate (PA) program envisions mobile medical clinics heading out from the University to underserved areas throughout the county.
Dr. Phil Tobin came to PBA in July 2021 to develop and direct a PA program, after having directed programs at Mercer University and Touro University in Nevada. From Touro, he sent PA teams out in three mobile units serving the homeless throughout the Las Vegas Valley.
At PBA Tobin plans a community medicine requirement for PA students, where they will serve not only through a mobile unit but also in such places as a domestic violence shelter and HIV clinic. “We’ll have different experiences set up so students are reaching out and treating the most vulnerable people in our community.”
That outreach not only follows the biblical model of serving “the least of these,” but it has a great impact on shaping the mindset and habits of future PAs, Tobin said.
Physician associates are licensed clinicians who practice medicine after completing a specialized master’s degree program and passing a certification exam. They are seen as a key in filling critical healthcare needs across the nation.
PBA’s Master of Medical Science in Physician Associate Medicine program was approved in February by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Tobin has been recruiting faculty and plans to begin recruiting students in the fall of 2023, with classes to begin in fall 2024.
The program will offer an overseas elective, he said, “because PBA already has a great overseas medical mission emphasis,” through the School of Nursing and the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy. He’s been meeting monthly with the deans of those two schools, talking about healthcare issues and ways to collaborate, including using a mobile clinic.
“If you’ve got a mobile health unit with students from pharmacy, nursing, PA, and counseling, you’ve got a great team,” Tobin said.
Project Two of PBA’s Campus Master Plan, the Physician Associate (PA) program would move to a new health sciences complex placed south of the Greene Complex for Sports and Recreation. This new health sciences complex will facilitate interprofessional education between pharmacy, nursing, and the new PA program, as well as contain state-of-the-art undergraduate science classrooms/laboratories located next to the Gregory School of Pharmacy. Combined with a planned clinical partnership, these new facilities will provide an outstanding training environment for PBA students.