FIU PA program could open in Crestview as early as August 2015

Gutierrez & Peaden

Former state senator Dr. Durrell Peaden, right, discusses Florida International University's proposed Crestview physician assistant program with the program's founding chair Dr. Peter Gutierrez.

BRIAN HUGHES / News Bulletin
Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 05:33 PM.

CRESTVIEW — A Florida International University physician assistant program could be welcoming its first batch of students as early as August 2015, the school's founding chair says.

Dr. Peter Gutierrez — who has lauded the opportunities that the north county offers to rural medicine students —said the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine is eager to "form relationships as early as we can" with Crestview, such as offering its students practical training at North Okaloosa Medical Center.

Physician assistant training programs are expanding throughout the country as demand for PAs increases, Gutierrez says. PAs can do many of the things a doctor can do, except issue prescriptions for narcotic medicines.

"The jobs are out there, and this area will have plenty of jobs that need to be filled," he says.

There are already "tremendous needs" in medical specialties including surgery, cardiology, OB/GYN and family practice, he says. Plus, "Insurance companies like PAs because they're cheaper."

The FIU program, which Gutierrez hopes will be accredited by March 2015, leads to a master’s degree. PAs can continue their training and receive an MD afterward.

Opportunities and needs



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