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May 18, 2009 - Harrogate, Tennessee – Excitement is building as the newest health professions program at Lincoln Memorial University (LMU), the Physician Assistant Program, prepares for its opening day.

The Physician Assistant (PA) Program’s inaugural class of 42 students will matriculate on May 18, 2009, with their first day of orientation. The program is a full-time, 27-month program that leads to the Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies. The program is housed and administered by the LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM).

The PA Program inaugural class is comprised of 24 females and 18 males. The average age is 27. Twenty-nine members of the inaugural class are from Tennessee and five are from Kentucky. The rest are from the Appalachian region or have ties to the region.

“Our inaugural class really exemplifies the missions of LMU, the PA Program and the PA profession,” said Dr. Michelle Heinan, director of the Physician Assistant Program. “Because so many have local ties, they are already committed to the idea of working in this region even before they begin their first day of class.”

The PA Program is an integral part of the health professions education taking place in the LMU-DCOM building. Medical school faculty will teach many of the PA Program courses and the PA students will have full use of the building’s high quality learning labs. The LMU-DCOM building is a state-of-the art structure that rivals medical education facilities at much larger universities throughout the nation.

PA students will study cadaveric anatomy on-site in the Anatomy Lab, which includes camera projection of dissections. They will engage in medical scenario simulations in the building’s Simulation Lab, which includes a simulated operating room, simulated emergency room, simulated OB/GYN birthing suite and simulated intensive care rooms. Simulations are performed with computerized mannequin patients, which can present with medical symptoms and respond to medical treatment.

“With this new PA program, we are setting a high standard of education for our students,” said Dr. Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk, chairman of the LMU Board of Trustees. “Extra emphasis will be placed on high-quality education in anatomy and other courses taught by the medical school faculty.”

Additionally, PA students will interact with trained standardized patients in the Clinical Exam Suite. Approximately 50 community members are currently trained to portray an actual patient with a specific medical history and physical exam findings for the purpose of instructing health professions students. Finally, the PA students will receive training in selected hands-on manipulative medicine techniques, which will provide a unique addition to the skills of the PA Program graduates.

The fourth floor of the LMU-DCOM building, left unfinished for expansion since the building opened in August 2007, has been built out over the past several months to house classrooms and the faculty and administrative offices of the PA Program. The fourth floor boasts two multipurpose lecture halls with smart classroom technology and interactive videoconference capability. As with the osteopathic medical school classes, all PA Program classes and labs will be digitally recorded and archived for students’ use. The PA Program curriculum is paperless, with all PA students being issued tablet PCs upon matriculation. Curricular materials are loaded directly onto the tablets or uploaded by the students from LMU’s online e-learning portal.

“We are excited to welcome the PA students to LMU-DCOM,” said Dr. Ray E. Stowers, vice president and dean of LMU-DCOM. “PAs are an important part of the health care team, and by learning from medical school faculty alongside our osteopathic medical students, those collegial bonds will be formed early on.”

The DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine is located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. LMU-DCOM is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community, and is dedicated to preparing the next generation of osteopathic physicians to provide healthcare in the often underserved region of Appalachia and beyond. For more information about LMU-DCOM, call 1-800-325-0900, ext. 7082, e-mail, or visit us online at

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