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Physician Assistant Students to Kick Off National PA Week
with Gov. Deal’s Scheduled Proclamation Signing

September 28, 2011

Media Contact: David Hefner,  or (678) 547-6244

ATLANTA – Students and faculty in Mercer University’s Physician Assistant Studies program will kick off national PA Week on Oct. 6 when they visit the state capitol to attend Gov. Nathan Deal’s scheduled signing of a proclamation officially declaring PA Week in Georgia.

National PA Week is observed each year from Oct. 6 – 12 to celebrate the significant impact PAs have and continue to make in health care. The week also helps expand awareness of the PA profession and salutes its outstanding growth.

The American Academy of Physician Assistants is leading the effort to recognize and maximize PAs’ role on health care teams by placing a new focus on prevention as a proactive way to provide quality, cost-effective health care.

“We are extremely pleased that Governor Deal is signing this proclamation in recognition of the valuable role PAs play in the health care delivery system,” said Rhonda Campbell, a first-year PA student in Mercer’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

“During PA Week, PAs are calling on policymakers, health professionals and the residents of Georgia to ensure that every provider can practice to their fullest potential, allowing for a balance between treating illness and preventing disease.”

The PA profession began in the 1960s in response to a significant shortage of primary care physicians. In 1965, Dr. Eugene Stead of the Duke University Medical Center put together the first class of physician assistants, who later graduated in 1968. Today, amid an even greater shortage of primary care physicians, there are over 81,000 certified PAs who are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with the limited supervision of a physician. PAs perform a comprehensive range of medical duties, from basic primary care to high-technology specialty procedures. PAs often act as first or second assistants in major surgery and provide pre- and postoperative care. The profession has been identified as one of the nation’s “best careers” by U.S. News & World Report.

Mercer’s 28-month master’s degree program in Physician Assistant Studies began in 2006 and  emphasizes evidence-based medicine, informatics, critical decision making, interdisciplinary teamwork, and continuous quality improvement.

“We always honor and respect the tremendous contributions of PAs like those who teach at Mercer University, especially during PA Week,” said AAPA President Robert Wooten. “PAs across the country do an extraordinary job of making a difference in the lives of countless patients every day. During PA Week, we want to spread the word that PAs are integral to transforming patient care in America.”

Among the PA Week events scheduled at Mercer include:

* High school outreach and tours on Oct. 5 at Mercer. Dozens of metro Atlanta high school students will visit Mercer’s Atlanta campus and PA facilities to learn more about the PA profession.

* Gov. Nathan Deal’s scheduled signing of PA Georgia proclamation at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 6 at the state capitol.

* Mercer PA students hold free blood screening on Mercer’s Atlanta campus from noon – 1 p.m., Oct. 6-12.

* Mercer PA students visit Milton High School in metro Atlanta on Oct. 6 to spread awareness about the PA profession.

* Mercer PA students assist with health fair at North DeKalb Health Center from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Oct. 8.

* Mercer PA students participate in AID Atlanta Walk on Oct. 16. The walk benefits metro Atlanta organizations that provide essential programs and services to those infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS.

* Mercer PA students will be collecting and donating items for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which has been an ongoing effort of the PA student organization.

For more information about Mercer’s PA Week events, contact Rhonda Campbell at For information about Mercer’s PA program, visit or e-mail

About the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Mercer University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has the No. 3 ranked pharmacy program among private universities in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. The College offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.), pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.), and physical therapy (DPT), and the master’s degree (M.M.Sc.) for physician assistants. Founded in 1903 as the independent Southern School of Pharmacy, the school merged with Mercer University in 1959 and in 1981 became the first school in the Southeast to offer the Doctor of Pharmacy degree as its sole professional degree. The College officially became a comprehensive College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 2006, adding the Department of Physician Assistant Studies in 2006 and the Department of Physical Therapy in 2010. With an enrollment of more than 750 students and a distinguished faculty of basic scientists and clinicians, the College houses five centers focusing on research, teaching and learning. The College’s motto, “A Tradition of Excellence – A Legacy of Caring,” frames its philosophy of providing excellent academic programs in an environment where every student matters and every person counts. For more information about the College, please call 678.547.6244 or visit