University of the Cumberlands (UC) is proud to announce the graduation of the first cohort of the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program at the university’s Northern Kentucky campus.

The cohort began the didactic phase of the program (the “book learning” phase) in October 2019 and began the clinical phase in March 2021, completing rotations at various health clinics and hospitals over the course of that year.

This cohort faced many challenges during their PA education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which began five months into the program. Despite the pivot to virtual instruction during the didactic phase and the uncertainties of the clinical year, they stayed on track for graduation.

“I am proud of the program’s accomplishments in the face of unprecedented challenges,” said Blair Whitaker, director of Cumberlands’ PA program in Northern Kentucky. “The faculty and staff demonstrated their dedication to the success of the students and the program while the students were determined to become high-quality medical providers.”

Approximately one-fifth of the graduates were from Kentucky while the remainder of the class hailed from 19 other states. Ohio was the highest-represented state following Kentucky. Many graduates plan to stay in Kentucky or Ohio, while others are returning to their home states or are waiting to decide after they have secured employment. 

Certain members of the PA program garnered awards from the program, including…

Samantha Isabella, winner of the Didactic Student Award. This award recognizes the student who exemplifies the highest level of academic achievement during the didactic phase of the program and models professionalism and high moral character.

Sogol Pahlevan, winner of the Clinical Student Award. This award recognizes the student who demonstrates excellence during the clinical rotations phase of the program and embodies qualities of high capability and compassion.

Lincoln Chasteen, Monica Dhaduk, Sarah Hall, and Madison Steele, are members of the Pi Alpha Honor Society. Students inducted into the honor society are recognized for significant academic achievement, leadership, research, community/professional service, and the encouragement of a high standard of character and conduct.

Amin Musaitif, winner of the Cumberlands Character Award. This award recognizes the student who most clearly represents the mission, vision, virtues, and values of the institution.

Kevin Ziegler, MD, winner of the Preceptor of the Year Award. This award is given by the graduating class to the preceptor who excels as a clinical instructor and is a strong role model.

There are currently two active cohorts in the PA program at Cumberlands – Northern Kentucky. They have also faced challenges due to the pandemic but have benefited from the experiences of the first cohort.

To learn more about the PA programs at University of the Cumberlands, visit www.ucumberlands.ed/academics.