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Clarkson University Plans to Welcome First Physician Assistant Class in January 2012

[A photograph for media use is available at]

Clarkson University plans to begin offering classes a year from next January for one of U.S. News & World Report’s 50 Best Careers of 2010.

A chair has been hired for a new Master of Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program, which is slated to admit its first class in January 2012. whitehead

Physician assistants are health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs perform a comprehensive range of medical duties, from basic primary care to high-technology specialty procedures. They often act as first or second assistants in major surgery and provide pre- and post-operative care.

Michael B. Whitehead DHSc, RPA-C, who is currently clinical coordinator in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at Wingate University in Wingate, N.C., has been appointed chair of Physician Assistant Studies and clinical associate professor at Clarkson. He starts this July 1.

In 2008, Clarkson’s board of trustees approved the new program, which complements the University’s successful Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program and will be housed in the same facility, Clarkson Hall.

"This new program has the full backing of our board of trustees and is a logical progression from our physical therapy program, which was established more than a decade ago," said Clarkson President Tony Collins. "We have excellent working relationships with our regional health care providers and the right facilities to provide training in this fast-growing field. We hope that our graduates will assist in filling the need for additional medical professionals in northern New York and beyond."

Relocating to the North Country will be a homecoming of sorts for Adams, N.Y., native Michael Whitehead, who graduated from South Jefferson High School and received his associate’s degree from Jefferson Community College in Watertown, N.Y. before continuing his education elsewhere.

"I’m excited about coming home to northern New York," says Whitehead. "This program will have the reputation for quality that people expect from Clarkson University. PAs are an important part of improving health care access in northern New York and the U.S. I’m anxious to get started."

The New York State Education Department Board of Regents must first approve the PA program’s curriculum, and then the University expects to receive provisional accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) in fall 2011.

Whitehead says that successful applicants to the program will possess a bachelor’s degree with a strong background in the sciences, as well as clinical experience. Specific prerequisites will be released at a later date.

Whitehead is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and a certified physician assistant. He holds a doctor of health science degree from Nova Southeastern University, a master of physician assistant studies from the University of Nebraska, a bachelor of science in applied science from Creighton University, a bachelor of general studies from Chaminade University of Honolulu, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army Academy of Health Science Physician Assistant Program at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

In addition to his duties at Wingate University, Whitehead is also a PA at Concentra Medical Centers in Charlotte, N.C., and an adjunct faculty member in the doctor of health science program at the Arizona School of Health Sciences in Mesa, Ariz.

Information about the Master of Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program is available at . Inquiries may also be made e-mail to

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Michael B. Whitehead DHSc, RPA-C, has been appointed chair of Physician Assistant Studies and clinical associate professor at Clarkson. The new Master of Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program is slated to admit its first class in January 2012.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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