WSU Physician Assistant program celebrates 50th anniversary


On Oct. 14, the Physician Assistant program at Wichita State University celebrated its 50th anniversary with an open house and reception for alumni, faculty, staff, students and supporters. 

PA students in 1977Founded in 1972, the WSU PA program was the first program in Kansas and one of the first in the nation. The program provides students with a patient-centered education that includes high-tech simulation scenarios, real-life cases and clinical problem solving. 

“For 50 years, Wichita State’s PA graduates have improved health outcomes throughout the community and across Kansas by increasing access to medical care, particularly in underserved and rural areas,” said Dr. Rick Muma, Wichita State president and first certified PA in the nation to serve as a university president. “With our exceptional faculty and rigorous curriculum, Wichita State’s PAs have a reputation for providing excellent care and compassion for the people of our state.”

The AAPA House of Delegates recently passed a resolution altering the meaning of the acronym “PA” from “physician assistant” to “physician associate.” The WSU PA program has a history of high-quality and innovative education. Continuing in that progressive spirit, the program officially announced at the 50th anniversary celebration plans to change their name to “Department of Physician Associate,” making it one of the first PA programs in the nation to embrace the new title.

“The profession has evolved significantly over the past 50 years,” said Ronda Hanneman, program director. “With our focus on training some of the best health care providers in Kansas, we believe the term 'associate' rather than 'assistant' better reflects and represents to the public the abilities, functions, roles and responsibilities of PA providers.”  

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