Campus News

UK Program Expands Physician Assistant Profession Globally

LEXINGTON, Ky. (October 5, 2010) − Faculty and staff from the Physician Assistant Studies program at the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences are not only preparing students to meet our nation's growing health care needs – they are helping establish the profession around the world.

While the physician assistant profession has existed in the U.S. since 1965 and is now one of the fastest growing in the country, it’s just beginning to take root elsewhere. UK PA faculty and staff are helping establish programs in England, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Ghana.

“The shortage of health care providers is a global problem,” said Gilbert Boissonneault, interim director of the UK Physician Assistant Studies program. “Physician assistants are in a great position to help alleviate some of that need in Kentucky, across the country and around the world. Our profession’s roots lie in primary care and meeting the needs of medically underserved communities, in line with our nation’s needs.”

The program’s most involved efforts have resulted in an extensive exchange program with the University of Wolverhampton in England, which has seen more than 250 students and faculty travel between the campuses since 1992. The exchange has included study abroad opportunities for students from both campuses and has seen the first-ever physician assistant students from England travel to the U.S. for clinical rotations. Two Wolverhampton students, only the second to come to the U.S. for clinical rotations, arrived in Lexington Sept. 28 to spend four weeks working with physicians and practicing PA’s at UK.

Efforts to help establish the PA profession across the world have opened opportunities for UK PA students to complete clinical rotations in a variety of countries, including England, Kenya and Swaziland. These international experiences, coupled with rotations throughout Kentucky and elsewhere, provide students a diverse view of the challenges faced in health care and prepare them to become better practitioners.

For more information about the UK Physician Assistant program, visit

National Physician Assistant Day is Oct. 6. In celebration, students from the UK PA program are conducting activities throughout the week. Activities include:

Oct 4-6: “Ask A PA” day at three Lexington YMCA locations (High St., North Lexington, Beaumont) Students will be available to answer questions about diabetes, nutrition, exercise, conducting blood pressure screenings and more. 

Oct 8: Hosting a free community health fair at the CHER Building at Morehead State University
More than 30 vendors will be present at this free event, which includes blood pressure and blood sugar checks, information on diseases, health care professionals and students available to answer questions, door prizes and a silent auction with proceeds going to the New Hope Clinic in Owingsville, Ky.

Oct 10: Participating in the statewide 2nd Sunday event in downtown Lexington.