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Growing in St. George

Physician Assistants are needed in every community in Utah, whether or not there is a training program in that area. A shortage of primary care providers in southern Utah, especially in rural and underserved communities, led to increasing strains on healthcare systems and an overall reduction in the health of those communities in the early part of the 2000's.

To address this shortage, in 2015 the administration of Dixie State University and Dixie Regional Medical Center proposed an expansion of the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program to be offered in southern Utah. The Utah Legislature accepted this proposal and granted funding for a distant campus to be located in St. George, Utah.

The St. George extension of The University of Utah Physician Assistant Program is made possible through collaboration between the University of Utah School of Medicine and Dixie State University. The St. George classrooms are located at the Russell C. Taylor Health Science Building. The Taylor Building is adjacent to the Dixie Regional Medical Center, a level II trauma center that serves Southeast Nevada, Northwest Arizona, and Southern Utah and which hosts several clinical rotations for UPAP St. George students.

The expansion program has shown excellent success in attracting and supporting phsyician assistant trainees, increasing enrollment by 50% in only three years from an initial cohort of 16 students in 2018. The innovative training process at the St. George extension allows students in St. George and Salt Lake City to get the benefit of attending lectures by faculty at both sites in person and virtually through the use of Interactive Video Conferencing technology.

Clinical training opportunities for students at the St. George campus are broad, with a primary focus on working with populations who live within the geography of central and southern Utah. Dixie Regional Medical Center is adjacent to the training facilities in St. George and provides several clinical training opportunities for physician assistant students and is one of many training sites in Southeast Nevada, Northwest Arizona, and Southern and Central Utah.