School of Medicine

Physician Assistant Studies - PA Program

Timeline

1969 - Study commissioned to investigate Utah health workforce issues (more)
1969 - Approval granted from Gov. Calvin Rampton to begin the development of a program to train physician assistants (more)
1970 - Drs. C. Hilmon Castle, MD and William M. Wilson, PhD establish the Utah MEDEX Project in the newly formed Department of Family and Community Medicine with Dr. Castle as Department Chairman and Dr. Wilson as PA Program Director
1970 - Program located in Bldg. 100, an original Ft. Douglas building near the old hospital (more)
1970 - First students enrolled in the Utah MEDEX Demonstration Project (40th anniversary class photo video collage (mp4)
1973 - Accreditation granted by the Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation (CAHEA) (more)
1980 - Annual summer student/faculty Salmon BBQs begin (more)
1981 - Program curriculum expanded from 12 months to 18 months
1982 - Program relocates to an Army barracks south of Eccles Health Science Library (Bldg. 528) (more)
1985 - 88 Utah State Board of Regents approves Program funding transition from federal grants to a self-retaining tuition-based format (1, 2, 3, 45)
1986 - Program curriculum expanded from 18 months to 22 months
1987 - Name changed from Utah MEDEX Demonstration Project to Utah Physician Assistant Program (UPAP) (1, 2, 3)
1987 - Community PAs hired part-time as Clinical Associates (CA) to facilitate small group training for didactic year PA students
1987 - Didactic year clinical experiences begin with community PAs working part-time as Friday Clinic Preceptors
1988 - First formal graduation ceremony conducted along with first send-off breakfast for student entering their clinical year of education
1989 - Dr. Donald M. Pedersen, PhD, PA-C succeeds Dr. Wilson as the 2nd PA Program director
1997 - National peer-reviewed journal for PA educators founded - Perspective on Physician Assistant Education (now Journal of Physician Assistant Education)
1999 - Program curriculum expanded from 22 months to 24 months with change from quarter system to semester system at the University of Utah
2000 - White Coat ceremonies begin for students starting their Friday Clinic experiences
2000 - Program relocates to a building (375 Chipeta Way) in Research Park
2000 - Program authorized by the Utah State Board of Regents to offer a Graduate degree (Masters of Physician Assistant Studies - MPAS) (more - page 9)
2001 - Program curriculum expanded from 24 months to 27 months with the addition of an additional semester (Summer)
2001 - Remainder of the Department joins the PA program in the Research Park facility
2003 - Combat Medic/Corpsmen Memorial sculpture dedication ceremony (more)
2005 - Formal School of Medicine faculty status granted to PA Program faculty
2010 - PA education designated a Division with the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine with Dr. Donald M. Pedersen, PhD, PA-C appointed the first Chief of the Division of Physician Assistant Studies
2010 - Dan J. Crouse, MPAS, PA-C appointed the PA Program’s 3rd Director
2010 - 40th Anniversary of PA education in Utah. Gala held September 25, 2010 in conjunction with the SOM Alumni Week celebration
2011 - John Houchins, MD succeeds Dr. Pedersen as Division Chief
2013 - Karen Mulitalo, MPAS, PA-C is appointed the fourth PA Program Director
2015 - Planning begins for the expansion of UPAP to Southern Utah through a satellite PA Program at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah
2016 - Dr. Houchins retires at the end of the year and Karen Mulitalo assumes the role of Interim Chief of the Division of PA Studies
2018 - UPAP opens its extended campus at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah with 16 students in the inaugural class. Open house April 13th with Richard Bennett, PhD, PA-C as the first Site Director
2018 -  Jared Spackman, MPAS, PA-C, is appointed as the fifth PA Program Director
2018 - Trenton Honda, PhD, PA-C is appointed as the third Chief of the Division of Physician Assistant Studies
2020 -  Rayne Loder, MHA, PA-C, is appointed the second St. George Site Director
2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated virtual didactic teaching for first-year PA students for 2 semesters and then hybrid format. Clinical trained was suspended and students worked at the health department assisting with the COVID hotline. Class 49 graduated successfully despite these challenges. UPAP was well positioned to adapt to this global tragedy given the advent of a distant campus using distance learning technology in St. George, UT which was initiated in 2018
2020 - Virginia L. Valentin, DrPH, PA-C is appointed as the fourth Chief of the Division of Physician Assistant Studies