RCSI appoints new Director of Physician Associate Programme

RCSI has appointed Professor Lisa Mustone Alexander as Director of RCSI’s Physician Associate Programme.

RCSI’s Physician Associate Programme was launched in 2015, and its graduates have played a critical role during the COVID-19 crisis. They have worked across surgical and medical services, with a number staffing some of the hospital testing facilities.

There are now over 135,000 PAs practicing in the US, and the UK has over 35 programmes graduating over 750 PAs annually.

Alongside leading the development and delivery of the RCSI PA programme, Professor Alexander will play an important role in advocating for the recognition of physician associates in the Irish healthcare system and in promoting the value of the role to healthcare professionals.

“With the increasing demands on healthcare systems during the COVID-19 pandemic, educating and utilising physician associates is important now more than ever,” said Professor Alexander.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues at RCSI and within the wider Irish medical community to grow and expand not only the RCSI PA programme, but the profession throughout the country.”

Professor Alexander joins RCSI following four decades at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She was among the fifth cohort of physician associates entering the George Washington programme in 1977 and went on to teach in the programme and twice serve as its director.

She is a member of the International Academy of PA Educators and provides consultation and expertise to faculty from PA programmes around the world. A national leader in the US, she has served as President of both the Physician Assistant Education Association and the Physician Assistant Foundation.

As a Fulbright Senior Specialist to the Rwandan Ministry of Education from 2009–10, Professor Alexander led a feasibility study to determine whether a physician associate model could meet Rwanda’s extensive post-genocide health workforce needs. Following the study, she collaborated with ministry officials and faculty at the Kigali Health Institute to develop a curriculum to train a cadre of clinical officers, the East African nation’s equivalent to physician associates. The programme has since become part of the University of Rwanda’s academic portfolio and trained more than 200 clinical officers.

Professor Alexander’s doctoral research focused on the evolution of the identity of PA profession. Her work identified the notion of the physician champion, or leaders who coordinate improvement efforts between fellow clinicians and other members of the health care team.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have Professor Alexander join us,” said Professor Cathal Kelly, RCSI CEO/Registrar. “She brings a wealth of experience with her, and I wish her every success in her role in leading such an important programme for the university.”

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