Academics, Campus wide, Graduation

CSU graduates first Physician Assistant class

By CSU Media | December 17, 2019
Inaugural physician assistant class graduating at Charleston Southern University

The inaugural Charleston Southern University Physician Assistant class graduated Saturday, Dec. 14. All 25 students in the first cohort, which began in January 2018, received a Master of Medical Science in physician assistant studies degree.

The PA students finished their clinical rotations in December. Graduates are now eligible to sit for the national certification examination for physician assistants and will be able to apply for licensure in the state in which they wish to practice medicine.

Gabrielle Poole, director of the CSU Physician Assistant Studies program, was instrumental in creating the program. She said many of the PA graduates already have jobs. “It is a gift to get to train students in a Christian environment,” said Poole.

The faculty recognized graduate Kristy Gonzalez for inspiring and encouraging personal and professional development in her classmates. Gonzalez said, “I have no doubt we are going to achieve amazing things.” She said the inaugural class is making a donation to the Ronald McDonald House in appreciation of the city they have called home for two years. The class also started a photo wall in the health science building to recognize each PA class.

In his remarks to the PA Class of 2019, Dr. Dondi Costin, CSU president, told the graduates, “Your job is to be Jesus with skin on for your patients.”

The Charleston Southern PA program is a full-time, 24 month program. Students complete one year of academic work and participate in one year of clinical rotations.

During their clinical rotations, PA students work with preceptors who agree to take the class under their wings. The inaugural class of PA students chose Dr. Caroline Keller for the Preceptor Award. Upon learning of the award, Keller said the CSU PA students gave her back her love of medicine.

Another highlight of the Dec. 14 program was the white coat ceremony for the second cohort. The white coat ceremony marks the beginning of the final year for the 30 students in the second cohort. They began studies in January 2019. Their clinical rotation year begins in January 2020.

Special Awards:

  • Excellence in Academics: Ashley J. Black of Summerville, South Carolina
  • Excellence in Leadership: Kristy A. Gonzalez of Oviedo, Florida
  • Excellence in Compassion: Brianna A. Blanton of Summerville, South Carolina
  • Preceptor of the Year: Dr. Caroline Keller, OB-GYN

View full photo gallery here

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