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UC graduates first class of physician assistants

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After years of classroom studies and clinical work in area hospitals, the University of Charleston Physician Assistant program graduated its first cohort of students on Sunday.

The 28 students also received academic cloaks last week during a hooding ceremony preceding Sunday’s formal graduation ceremony on campus.

Because of competitive pay — usually around $100,000 a year — and requiring fewer years of schooling than a master’s in medicine, physician assistant is one of the fastest-growing career fields in the country. Jennifer Pack, the program’s director, said many of the students already have job offers and that even more primary and special care units in Charleston are hiring.

UC is one of three schools in West Virginia to have a physician assistant program. Other programs are housed at West Liberty University and Alderson Broaddus.

Pack said UC has a geographical advantage by being located in a major medical hub in Charleston, something she believes has been beneficial for students who have been able to draw upon local resources.

The university’s physician assistant program is a 28-month masters program that started admitting its first class in January 2013…

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