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Graduates in physician assistant program at FGCU in high demand

Primary care physicians are in short supply, so schools across the country, including Florida Gulf Coast University in south Fort Myers, are looking to fill the gap.

For Michelle Goble, this moment is the realization of a life-long dream.

“I got hurt when I was in high school and throughout my whole process of the surgery and my check-ups and everything,” said Goble, a first-year student in FGCU’s Physician Assistant Graduate Program, “I was dealing with a PA.”

Goble is one of 20 students in her class. To get that spot required countless hours of work and sacrifice. It took her “two cycles” to get in.

Director of the Physician Assistant Program at FGCU, Robert Hawkes, said the program is in high demand with applicants from around the country. The demand addresses the lack of interest in primary care.

“There are a lot of fantastic primary care physicians,” Hawkes said, “but as our specialties have increased in medicine, a lot of those providers are going off into those specialties or surgical areas.”

But, physician assistants graduate in less time and debt. They can fill that gap quickly while bringing down health care costs because they do not get paid as much as doctors. For patients, it can mean more time with medical professionals.

“PA’s can certainly diagnose, they can order diagnostic tests, they can write prescriptions,” Hawkes said. “They’re working hand-in-hand with their physicians.”

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
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