Mass. Physician Assistant Programs Adopt First-in-Nation Partnership
to Prevent Opioid Abuse
Process described in Special Article(Boston)—Morbidity and mortality from prescription and synthetic opioid use and abuse continues to be a U.S. public health issue. In an effort to help curtail this crisis, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) describe an approach to ensure Physician Assistant (PA) students graduating from any PA program in Massachusetts will have the knowledge and skills to prescribe opiates safely.“As health care educators charged with preparing the next generation of Physician Assistants, faculty in PA programs can impact this growing public health crisis of opioid misuse,” explained corresponding author Susan E. White, MD, Program Director, Physician Assistant Program at BUSM. “PA faculty have the potential to improve the education of our students and hopefully have a positive impact on patient outcomes in Massachusetts and other states where our graduates will practice.”As a result, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, along with the Massachusetts Association of Physician Assistants, created a working group for addressing the opioid crisis in the state by convening representatives from all nine PA programs to discuss curricular competencies as the Governor’s Physician Assistant Education Working Group on Prescription Drug Misuse. The nine programs came together and adopted these competencies for a first-in-the-nation, cross-institutional partnership toward the prevention and management of prescription drug misuse.In a Special Article in the Journal of Physician Assistant Education, the authors outline the consensus building techniques they used to build agreement. They also highlight the process used to bring all nine programs together and provide specific examples of how PA Programs teach students.

The authors feel the process, competencies and curricular innovations described in their article have the potential to serve as a road-map for the development of additional statewide, interdisciplinary collaborations around an educational approach to the opioid epidemic.

“It is encouraging to know that we can find common ground and, in doing so, we have the potential to improve the education of our students and hopefully have a positive impact on patient outcomes,” said White, who believes the process implemented in Massachusetts could be used to address other public health crises.

“Physician assistant students need to be prepared to prevent and treat opioid use disorder and opioid overdose,” said DPH Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “We were pleased to work with the PA schools in Massachusetts to incorporate addiction treatment into their school curricula.”

We Will Jump In: 2019 PA Graduates Make Leap to Clinical World

The 2019 graduates outside 670 Albany Street

“Today we celebrate the accomplishments of 28 highly successful individuals who comprise the Class of 2019,” said Program Director Susan White, MD, as she opened the fourth commencement exercises for the Physician Assistant Program held Aug. 15 in the 670 Albany Street auditorium.



PA Class of 2021 Celebrates White Coat Ceremony

The Class of 2021 Physician Assistant students celebrated the start of their journey into clinical care through the Boston University School of Medicine Physician Assistant (PA) Program at its annual White Coat Ceremony held July 19.

BU PA Faculty & Students Join the COVID-19 Vaccination Effort

On Sunday March 7, PA faculty members and program alum participated in a session at FitRec to train vaccinators. Many of our PA students also participated in the session to become vaccinators. This was truly a collaborative effort with faculty, students, and staff from BU’s Occupational Health Center, School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, as well as UMass Medical School and UMass Graduate School of Nursing. See the full article on BU Today!

Congratulations Class of 2017!

Teamwork, Harmony, and Remembering to Take It “One Patient at a Time”

COM_PA commencement

Boston University School of Medicine conferred 32 students with Master of Science degrees on Thursday, Aug. 17, as part of its second class of Physician Assistants. Founding Program Director Mary L. Warner, MMSc, PA-C opened the commencement exercises in the 670 Albany St. auditorium, “Today we celebrate personal growth and accomplishment.”

The Class of 2017 will be joining the 115,000 practicing physician assistants across the US.

A brass quartet’s rendition of Pomp and Circumstance signaled the degree candidates to process in among 150 family and friends in attendance.  Connor Verbruggen, degree candidate and President of the Carl Toney Society, was called to the podium to introduce the commencement speaker Michael Milner, DHSc, DHL, PA-C, DFAAPA.

Milner, a retired Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, has been a practicing PA for more than 20 years and was appointed to many leadership roles within the profession, including serving as the Regional Senior Health Administrator, the senior-ranking public health officer in the northeast.

COM_PA comm speaker MillnerMilner emphasized the theme of teamwork throughout his remarks. “We’re part of an interprofessional team. Take the opportunity to be a part of that bigger team. Volunteer when you can because it can help you grow as an individual.” He welcomed the class to the profession saying, “It is a helping and a healing profession but it is still one patient at a time.” Reflecting on his experience in the health service working with Native Americans, he advised, “You have to have harmony between what your head’s thinking, what your heart’s thinking, and what your mouth is saying … and if you don’t have that you have disease, distress and anxiety. Work toward that harmony.”

The graduation ceremony marks the end of students’ two-and-a-half year journey through an intensive course of study, including an integrated pathophysiology and pharmacology course alongside second-year medical students. Ryan Fox of Colorado was especially proud of making it through the first semester, “We start things off very quickly, getting thrown into the flames. There’s a lot of catching up to do to get on the same pace as the medical students so getting through that first semester was a very rewarding time.” He highlighted his fellow classmates as the major source of support and motivation and hopes to pursue a career in orthopedics.

In addition to classroom work, students also complete 14 months of clinical rotations as well as a thesis project. Kelsey Mazur reflected on the comradery shared among her fellow classmates, “Developing relationships with classmates and sharing funny stories both at work and outside of work was definitely my favorite experience.” As a former gymnast, she is excited to explore career opportunities in orthopedic surgery. On the PA program as a whole she said, “Being in rotations with other PA’s from different schools I feel like we were very well prepared. A unique thing about the BU program is being with the medical students during our first year. It was great to be with our fellow physicians who will be working with us in practice in several years.”

PA Students nominated the following people for awards:

  • Didactic Instructor of the Year: Stephanie Oberhaus, PhD
  • Clinical Site of the Year: Department of Internal Medicine, Cambridge Health Alliance
  • Carl M. Toney Student Society Award: Angela Reffel, MHP, PA-C

Student award winners included:

  • Outstanding Academic Achievement: Carolyn Kussmaul
  • Outstanding Clinical Achievement: Marion Tilearcio
  • Humanitarian Award: Danielle Murray

Oren Berkowitz, PhD, MSPH, PA-C led the students in reading the PA oath to close the ceremony.

See more on the Facebook album.

Submitted by Robert Martin, MD

Dear International Students…

"We know that recent events have caused some of you to wonder if you'll be welcome in the United States. The answer at Boston University is Yes!"

Click here for a message from Boston University

Boston University Receives High Clinical Ranking

If you were asked to name the world’s leading universities, a handful of ancient institutions in the UK and the US would likely roll off your tongue: Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale.

But which higher education institutions are best placed to challenge this elite group? And how do their characteristics differ from the “old stars”?

Click here to read more!

Celebrating 50 years of the PA Profession

Faculty, students and staff gathered in the Alumni Medical Library this afternoon for the opening of the National Library of Medicine's "Physician Assistants: Collaboration and Care," a traveling banner exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Physician Assistant profession. Mary Warner, MMSc, founding program director for the PA program, was joined by BUMC Provost and #BUSM Dean Karen Antman, MD, and BUMC Associate Provost Thomas Moore, MD at the reception.

BUSM is only the second place in the country to host the exhibit, which features stories of PAs in communities all over the world and on the front lines of health crises.

It will be on display until Feb. 24.

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Interested in the PA profession? Summer Program

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation offers a free summer health professions education enrichment program for underrepresented students as well as those from economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. The program provides information and resources to ensure college students are successful candidates to health professions schools. This program has been in existence for the past 25 years but recently was expanded to include students interested in the PA profession.  Please visit for more information.