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Fairfield's Sacred Heart University Launches Physician Assistant Program

Sacred Heart University physician assistant faculty Harry Pomeranz MSPH, PA-C, and Teresa Thetford, DHSc, PA-C pose for a photo.
Sacred Heart University physician assistant faculty Harry Pomeranz MSPH, PA-C, and Teresa Thetford, DHSc, PA-C pose for a photo. Photo Credit: Contributed

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — After earning a “perfect score” on its accreditation, Sacred Heart University’s master of physician assistant studies will welcome its first class on Stamford Hospital’s campus this fall.

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) recently granted accreditation-provisional status to program with zero observations or areas in need of improvement.

“This can be considered analogous to a perfect score on our accreditation,” PA Program Director Teresa Thetford said. “The PA Program team is extremely proud of this accomplishment and is looking forward to welcoming the first class.”

After receiving more than 700 applicants and conducting 150 interviews, 28 students will begin the university’s PA program on the second floor of Stamford Hospital’s Tandet Building next to the main hospital on West Broad Street.

The 13,000-square-foot space has been renovated and will be ready for students on Aug. 29. The space includes a state-of-the-art lab, classrooms and a patient-assessment suite.

“I’ve been on several walk-throughs; it’s just beautiful,” Thetford said. “The entire process—from interviewing applicants to seeing the progress on the Tandet Building—has been exciting.”

Students will participate in a 12-month classroom phase, followed by a 15-month clinical phase, providing 2,000 hours of experience in several medical specialties. All students will complete clinical rotations primarily at Stamford Hospital as well as other university-affiliated hospitals and health-care sites.

Faculty and staff in the department are expected to move into the Tandet Building in July. In October, a month that coincides with National PA Week, the department will host a ribbon cutting and open house. Guest speakers and other special events will be scheduled, Thetford said.

SHU is accepting applications for the 2017 PA cohort, which will consist of 34 students. The University has already received more than 700 applications. The application deadline is Oct. 1.

Sacred Heart University’s Dean of the College of Health Professions praised the program.

“I am very pleased and proud of Dr. Thetford and the MPAS faculty for their achievement of accreditation-provisional status,” Walker said. “It’s obvious from the results of the review that ARC-PA is impressed with their performance as well. We are off to a great start as we welcome our inaugural class.”

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