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UTHSCSA graduates first class of physician assistants

San Antonio (Dec. 20, 2002) — Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, proudly congratulates the university's first graduating class of physician assistants. Nineteen students graduated Saturday, Dec. 14.

"Our physician assistant program is another way the Health Science Center fulfills its mission to serve south Texas," said J. Dennis Blessing, Ph.D., associate professor and chairman of physician assistant studies in the School of Allied Health Sciences. "Physician assistants provide a range of services to people in rural areas who might not otherwise have access to healthcare."

Physician assistants have become a critical component in healthcare, especially in areas with increased need for patient care. A national shortage of medical personnel has created a high demand for physician assistants. "It's one of the top 10 jobs according the U.S. Department of Labor," Dr. Blessing said. Physician assistants are trained to make clinical decisions and provide a broad range of diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive and health maintenance services. Their clinical role includes primary and specialty care in medical and surgical practice.

"We're proud of this class. We've had lots of positive comments about their work and their outreach," Dr. Blessing said. Many of the new graduates have chosen to stay in the area to serve San Antonio and south Texas.

Contact: Aileen Salinas