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ASU Announces Partnership with Wake Forest School of Medicine to Bring Healthcare to Rural, Western N.C.

by Madison V. Fisler

Aug. 28, 2013. Appalachian State University and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem announced this morning that they will be partnering up to address the shortage of healthcare in the rural communities of Western North Carolina by establishing an extension of the Physician Assistant program at Wake Forest. This program will begin in ernest in June 2014.

“This is a dream come true,” said ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock.

“I look forward to this working relationship. In my opinion the best has yet to come.

“Our nationally accredited physician assistant program has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top physician assistant programs in the country,” said John McConnell, CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

“Appalachian State University is a preeminent academic institution and to pioneer a health and wellness transformation with its College of Health Sciences is a privilege and honor,” McConnell said. 

imgres-2The urban funded university, Wake Forest, and the rural state university, Appalachian, will work together to extend their Physician Assistant programs to the rural community. The idea is to deploy medical students from Wake Forest to Western North Carolina, to spend 9 months working with faculty at Appalachian. The last year of the program is supervised clinical practice, which is a “very practical way to train students, to immerse them in the community they want to serve.”

“We have found our once-in-a-lifetime partner in Wake Forest School of Medicine,” said Dr. Fred Whitt, founding dean of the Appalachian State University College of Health Sciences.

imgres-1“In addition to the PA collaboration, we already have collaborations going on with nursing, public health and research. The real winners are the citizens of Western North Carolina and beyond for having greater access to much needed healthcare. We are commencing a new beginning.”

The program will help to expand healthcare and access to it throughout the rural communities in Western North Carolina. 

“We have overcome a lot of hurdles with a can-do spirit because we both thought it was the right thing to do,” Whitt said.

“The opportunities of this partnership are profound.”