Jackie Kazik oversees PA students as they practice eye exams in the new health professions lab.

Editor's note: This story first appeared in the spring 2018 issue of the Concordian, the official magazine of Concordia University Wisconsin.

Five years after its launch and with three cohorts of graduates successfully in the field, the physician assistant (PA) program at Concordia University Wisconsin is hitting its stride.

From fresh leadership and a new learning space to record-breaking test scores and an ever-broadening reach, the past couple of years have had their share of celebratory moments for Concordia’s graduate-level program.

Last year the students who completed CUW’s 26-month Master of Science in Physician Assistant program achieved a 100-percent pass rate on the national certifying exam required for all PAs to practice in the field. The accomplishment was a first in CUW history and a significant achievement for a relatively new program.

The 2017 graduating class also continued Concordia’s 100-percent placement record, with graduates earning jobs at major medical organizations, including Aurora Health Care, Mayo Clinic, and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Elliot Cain ('16) helped with the 900th heart transplant at Aurora St. Luke's.

Just years into their positions, CUW graduates are excelling in their professions and receiving placements in specialized fields at well-known hospitals; like Greg Schalla (’17), who landed a residency in the ICU at internationally renowned The Johns Hopkins Hospital, or Elliot Cain (’16), who was among a team of medical professionals at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center to successfully complete the hospital’s 900th heart transplant last November.

“We have incredible alumni who are doing extraordinary work all over the country, and I’m continually amazed at their commitment to service despite their busy schedules,” says Jacqueline Kazik, MA, PA-C, who stepped into the role of program director last summer. With each passing year, the department seeks to expand its reach and reputation more and more.

CUW PAs—including cohorts through this year’s graduating class—will have completed rotations in 30 states throughout the nation, among them Oregon and Alaska, and in multiple countries abroad. In 2017 alone, more than 800 applicants throughout the U.S. applied for admission into the program capped at 30 students.

Current students in the program were among the first to reap the benefits of a newly renovated lab space on campus. Located in the Health Professions wing, the new lab boasts 15 patient exam tables and resembles a small clinical environment. Concordia’s physical therapy and occupational therapy programs share the lab.

“The future of the PA program at CUW is very bright,” Kazik says. “We’re continuing to meet the needs of our learners so that we can continue to build on our reputation as a nationally sought-after program that is fulfilling the need for compassionate, patient-centered care.”

The spring Concordian hit mailboxes the week of April 23. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, call 734-995-7317.

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at kali.thiel@cuw.edu or 262-243-2149.

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