Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN.

NASHVILLE, TN — Meharry Medical College has received provisional accreditation status from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) to launch the Physician Assistant Sciences Program in the School of Graduate Studies and Research. The program, which will begin enrolling students in January 2023, will build on Meharry’s legacy of training health care professionals dedicated to serving the underserved and extend the College’s efforts to advance health equity, conduct transformative research, and deliver exceptional and compassionate health services. 

“Physician assistants are important contributors to health care teams today,” James E.K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D., president and CEO of Meharry Medical College, said. “Their engagement in patient care can help fill critical gaps in access to care and services that exist across our nation and that are particularly acute among Black and Brown communities.  We are proud to launch this program and look forward to working with our team, students and partners to grow the number of physician assistants practicing today and strengthen health care in underserved regions and among underserved populations.” 

A physician assistant is a licensed medical professional who can diagnose patients, perform medical treatments, prescribe medicines and order medical tests, while collaborating with a medical doctor. The Meharry Physician Assistant Sciences Program will be a 27-month training that includes both didactic and clinical phases. 

The College is actively recruiting for the first cohort of 25 students, who will enter into one of the nation’s fastest growing professions that is projected to grow 31 percent by 2030. These students will receive training onsite at Meharry’s campus in Nashville, Tenn., as well as with partnered clinical sites located throughout North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, California, New York, Indiana and Mississippi. 

The Meharry Physician Assistant Sciences Program will be led by Michelle Drumgold, MSPH, MPAS, PA-C, a Meharry alumna and native of Augusta, Ga., who spent months on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 at the three testing sites ran by the College. 

“Data shows that many people prefer to receive care from someone of their own race, and increasing minority representation among PAs will help us ensure this is possible,” Michelle Drumgold, MSPH, MPAS, PA-C, chair and founding program director, said. “While a lot of progress has been made in diversifying our PA workforce, there are still too few minority students considering this wonderful career path. My colleagues and I are working to break down some of the barriers Black and Brown students can face when applying to physician assistant programs. I’m looking forward to welcoming our first cohort of students.”

From the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA):

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Meharry Medical College Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Meharry Medical College.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class. The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at http://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation-history-meharry-medical-college/.

Meharry Medical College, founded in 1876, is the nation’s largest private, independent historically Black academic health sciences center dedicated solely to educating minority and other health professionals. True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church-related institution. The College is particularly well known for its uniquely nurturing, highly effective educational programs; emerging preeminence in health disparities research; culturally sensitive, evidence-based health services and significant contribution to the diversity of the nation’s health professions workforce. Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s ranking of institutions annually lists Meharry as a leading national educator of African Americans with M.D. and D.D.S. degrees and Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences. Visit www.mmc.edu to learn more.