West Liberty’s Physician’s Assistant Program receives large grant

At the end of March, the West Liberty University Foundation received a generous gift for the Physician Assistant master’s program from the Ohio County Medical Society Alliance (OCMSA) in honor of Doctor’s Day. The gift totaled $5000 and will go towards the PA Program Scholarship endowment fund.

The gift was made in honor of the OCMSA’s 80-year anniversary with the aim of honoring local doctors and showing appreciation for physician assistants’ work. “Physicians know that PAs have become an integral part of the health care team caring for and promoting the well-being of patients. We are happy to help students preparing for this career,” said Lynn Comerci, an OCMSA committee member.

Dr. Nahla Khoury, an instructor in the WLU program and member of the OCMSA, initially suggested that the Ohio County Alliance contributed to the PA scholarship endowment at West Liberty after seeing the strength of the program and the incredibly capable students it produces. “I have been a member of the Ohio County Medical Society Alliance for more than thirty years, and have been managing the OCMSA Scholarship fund for a long time,” said Khoury. “I got involved with the PA program at WLU since its inception in 2012, and continue to teach advanced pharmacology… It is an excellent program that has graduated about 17-18 students every year, and now I see the graduates of this program working not only in the Ohio Valley but all over the country, contributing in remarkable ways to the health care system.”

The gift from the OCMSA will go towards the WLU PA scholarship endowment fund which has been building over the last few years. “The WLU PA scholarship has been an effort at work over several years,” said William (Bill) Childers, the PA program director at West Liberty. “The program’s medical director, Dr. Howard Shackleford provided the initial gift to get things going. Then other faculty and staff as well as alumni contributed to the fund with the additional efforts of the WLU Foundation.”

The contribution from the OCMSA tipped the endowment over the minimum amount of $25,000, meaning WLU can officially start to award scholarships to PA program students next year. “Even though we are the least expensive PA program in the state of West Virginia, we think the scholarship will have a significant impact on the affordability of the program especially given the fact that paying for graduate programs is largely funded by loans beyond what individuals can personally afford,” said Childers.

The first scholarship will be awarded next year to a second-year student. The student will receive $10,500 towards their tuition fee.

The scholarship fund for the WLU PA program will continue to grow in size over the coming years and allow more and more capable students to enter the medical field with a reduced financial strain. “This scholarship is yet another tool to help us fulfill our mission of providing high quality education to physician assisted candidates who, as an integral part of the health care team, will provide empathetic and competent care to the patients they serve including those in underserved areas,” said Childers.

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree is a 24-month program involving both lecture and laboratory courses with clinical rotations in the second year. Find out more about West Liberty’s PA program by visiting their website.