USM to Add Master's Level Physician Assistant Program

5/21/2014 12:00:00 AM

PA Program Classes Expected to Start in 2016

(Leavenworth, Kan.)—Expanding on its growing mission to meet the country’s needs for highly trained health care professionals, the University of Saint Mary is developing a new master’s level physician assistant (PA) program with classes expected to begin in January 2016.

USM has hired Joseph Tritchler, an experienced physician assistant and PA educator to develop the program and shepherd it through accreditation.

“Our ideal students would be individuals who come from a wide range of backgrounds, but share a deeply felt love for working with people and helping people,” Tritchler said.

“This is a great opportunity for students in our area, as PAs are among the most in-demand professionals in health care,” he added. “There are also very few programs in neighboring communities, and only one other PA program in the entire state of Kansas.”

The USM PA program will be an intense course of study, with students taking three semesters of courses each year for an eventual total of seven semesters. Prospective students must have a bachelor’s—in any subject—and meet some specific pre-requisites.

USM will begin recruiting students in April of 2015, with classes starting the following January. Tritchler said he expects initial classes to have 30 students.

Tritchler said the USM PA program is due for review by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant in September 2015 to determine whether it will receive provisional accreditation. Provisional accreditation is required for the university to begin matriculating PA students.

The PA program is the newest addition to USM’s expanding roster of health care education programs. Existing health care offerings include the university’s first doctorate—the Stefani Doctor of Physical Therapy Program; USM’s well known and well regarded nursing programs—including an in-seat BSN and online MSN and RN-to-BSN paths; a health information management (HIM) program offered on-ground and online; and multiple undergraduate offerings including several pre-professional health paths. Learn more about USM’s health care programs online at

USM Provost Dr. Bryan Le Beau described the university’s health care focus as the intersection where need, opportunity, and tradition meet.

“Several years ago, the University of Saint Mary decided that while remaining a liberal arts institution, it would emphasize the health sciences. The decision was consistent with the Sisters of Charity’s commitment to healthcare and to filling the needs of society,” he said. “Since then, USM has implemented a wide array of programs to realize that emphasis.  A Physician Assistant program is next in line. The need is great and USM’s will be only the second such program in the Kansas City area.”

Go to to learn more about USM’s PA program.