Austin College reveals new PA program, Health Campus at old Cigna building

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 10:53 PM CST
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DENISON, Texas (KXII) - On Tuesday, a ribbon cutting ceremony was the official celebration of the opening of the new Austin College Health Campus. The 13,000 square foot renovated space is home to the new Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant Program. The building was the former Cigna building adjacent to Texoma Medical Center, but now will house the new PA Program.

Founding director, Dr. Diana Noller, said Texoma’s growth and development created an increased need for health care.

“So, we, Austin College, recognized the need for additional providers in the area and so they want us to be a part of the solution and looked at what programs they could offer and decided on a PA program, so that they can train health care providers to give back to the community, and help serve the needs of health care here,” said Noller.

Noller said the idea came about because Austin College is already known for preparing students for medical school. “They have a really good undergraduate foundation, and they thought if they have the skills and knowledge to do that, well, then why not branch out into medical education.”

The program was born and approved by the Board of Trustee’s in May of 2021.

“It’s an emotional day for me. It’s an emotional day for the whole institution. This truly is a transformative moment, branching out into a physician assistant program,” said the president of Austin Colle, Steven O’Day.

Currently, there are more than 1,100 applications. in June 2024, the Austin College Health Campus will welcome only 34 students to the PA program.

O’Day said that this has not been historically done at the college.

“Our mission and our traditions of sending students out into the world, into the health professions, this seemed like the logical progression. So we’re very excited not only for the institution, but for the community as well. We think this program will begin to address a staggering shortage of health care providers, both nationally, regionally and within our community.”

Future students will work in a small knit academic community with seven professors, with added benefits of cutting-edge technology, such as virtual dissection tables and mixed reality lenses for holographic study of the human body, the college said.

The PA Program is accepting applications through December.