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NSU College of Science & Health Professions announces new hires for PA program

Northeastern State University recently announced a Master of Science in physician assistant studies is in the works, set to debut with its first cohort of students in January 2017, pending provisional accreditation. The program will be housed on NSU’s Muskogee campus. 

In the months that have followed the announcement, the College of Science & Health Professions (CSHP) has been diligently searching for individuals to fill key roles within the program. Two key hires for the PA program include Melody Yozzo, MHS, PA-C, who will serve as program director, and Jeremiah Rutherford, MD, FACP, who will serve as the medical director.

Yozzo graduated with her Master of Health Science, Physician Associate from the University of Oklahoma in December 2003. She has been actively involved in PA education since 2008, developing numerous teaching materials as well as holding various PA roles in a variety of settings.

“Her experience in PA education will be invaluable as we move through our provisional process,” said Dr. Pamela Hathorn, dean of the College of Science & Health Professions. 

Rutherford graduated with a doctorate in medicine from St. George’s University School of Medicine in 2006. He is currently board certified in Internal Medicine and has held numerous medical director positions since 2009.

Currently, Rutherford serves as the Chief Medical Officer at Solara Hospital in Muskogee and as chairman for the department of Medicine at Eastar Health Systems, also in Muskogee. He is an adjunct clinical assistant professor of Medicine at Oklahoma State University, College of Medicine, where he has been teaching since 2012. 

Because of his time at OSU, Rutherford has extensive experience in both the training of PA students and providing pre-PA students with shadowing opportunities. 

NSU has received approval from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.(ARC-PA) to initiative the process of obtaining “Accreditation-Provisional,” which is the first step toward full accreditation. CSHP hopes to receive this by Fall 2016.

The PAS program will be 24 months long, which includes both course content and clinical rotations consistent with the requirements of ARC-PA. Tahlequah City Hospital, the Cherokee Nation, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Northeastern Oklahoma Community Health Center will serve as clinical sites. 

Hathorn said that the program is an important addition to NSU and northeast Oklahoma because it speaks to the mission and operational philosophy of the University.

Specifically, she said it addresses the healthcare workforce shortage needs in an industry sector that is vital to both the economic health and resident well-being of the region and state.

Secondly, it enables continued pursuit of life-long learning opportunities for professionals within the region.

“We would like to thank President Turner, Mr. David Koehn, Dr. Mark Arant and our clinical sites. Without the support of each of these individuals, we would not have been able to seek accreditation for this program,” Hathorn said.

For more information about the program, visit www.nsuok.edu/MPAS or email prehealth@nsuok.edu. 

Published: 7/7/2015 12:11:05 PM

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