Regents move USD physician assistant studies to graduate level

Regents move USD physician assistant studies to graduate level Students studying to become physician assistants at The University of South Dakota will do so at the graduate degree level beginning in fall 2004, the South Dakota Board of Regents decided June 25.

The regents, meeting in Aberdeen, also approved a new biotechnology minor at South Dakota State University.

At the request of university officials, the board agreed to move USD's undergraduate degree program in physician assistant studies to the master's degree level.

"Bachelor degree programs now account for only 34 percent of the PA programs available nationwide," said Regents President Harvey C. Jewett. "In order for our program to remain competitive, and to improve compliance with accreditation standards, we need to produce physician assistants with a master of science degree."

Jewett noted that students who enter the existing baccalaureate program at USD this fall will have the opportunity to complete additional courses for the master's degree. Physician assistants already graduated with a bachelor's degree may earn the higher-level degree as well by taking further courses. Officials estimate about 60 students will be enrolled in the program by its third year.

At SDSU, the new minor in biotechnology may be applied to bachelor of science degrees in agriculture, arts and science, and biological sciences. Students will complete 12 required hours in biotechnology, along with another six to eight hours of elective coursework in the minor field.

"Biotechnology is a growing field, with many applications in the life sciences and various industries," Jewett said. "Students who complete this minor will have a good grounding in genetics and molecular biology."

No new state funds were requested by the Board of Regents to develop or implement the two programs approved June 25.

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