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This version of NSU News has been archived as of February 28, 2019. To search through archived articles, visit nova.edu/search. To access the new version of NSU News, visit news.nova.edu.

This version of SharkBytes has been archived as of February 28, 2019. To search through archived articles, visit nova.edu/search. To access the new version of SharkBytes, visit sharkbytes.nova.edu.

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Division of Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796


SharkBytes Archives


Division of Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796

(954) 262-5353
(800) 541-6682 x25353
Fax: (954) 262-3954

Jacksonville’s First Graduating Class of Physician Assistants will Receive their degrees from Nova Southeastern University

Graduates will help meet health care needs of local residents

JACKSONVILLE,  Fla. — The first graduating class of Physician Assistants (PAs) from Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) Jacksonville Student Educational Center will  graduate Aug. 28 helping to meet the healthcare needs of Jacksonville residents.

“The Jacksonville area, Florida and the nation in general has a need for more Physician Assistants,” said Richard E. Davis, Ed.D, PA-C, dean of NSU’s College of Allied Health and Nursing which oversees the PA program. “Having more Physician Assistants means more people can receive medical attention sooner.”

Physician Assistants practice medicine working with members of a health care team including physicians and surgeons.  They are formally trained to provide diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventative healthcare services as delegated by a physician.  In rural or inner city clinics they may be the primary health care provider, conferring with physicians as required by law.

“Our Physician Assistant program produces quality health care professionals who have jobs lined up before they even graduate,” said Deborah A. Gerbert, MS, PA-C, DFAAPA, Chair and Program Director for NSU’s Physician Assistant Program in Jacksonville.  “Having more PAs in the area opens up more access for patients to get quality health care.”

The 39 physician assistant students began their 27- month program in 2009.  The students have participated in their required medical rotations at local hospitals such as Mayo Clinic, Baptist Health Care System, Wolfson Children’s Hospital and Nemours Children’s Clinic.  According to Gerbert many of these hospitals and local clinics have offered students permanent positions in all fields of medicine upon graduation.

NSU has been offering quality programs in the Jacksonville area for more than 30 years.  The Jacksonville PA Program is the fourth PA program of NSU giving the Jacksonville community a strong history and support in educating and training physician assistants.

“Although our program is new to the Jacksonville area, our students have already made an impact in the community,” said Hugh Rappa, M.D., NSU’s Academic Director  and Professor for the PA program. “Our students regularly volunteer in the community.”   For example, the students volunteer to help administer visual and hearing tests to elementary school children in St. Johns County. They have also helped the Clara White Mission at the Sulzbacher Clinic.  During the month of August the students will assist the Duval County Medical Society with athletic screening exams to middle and high school students.


About Nova’s College of Allied Health and Nursing: The College endeavors to train health care professionals in the art and science of improving the quality of life and health of their patients and communities. Through undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate degree programs, its goal is to produce highly motivated and well educated practitioners who will be integral members of the healthcare team. nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, anesthesiologist assistant, physician assistant vascular sonography, audiology, health science, and cardiovascular sonography.

About the Physician Assistant Program – Nova Southeastern University provides Physician Assistant training opportunities at four locations in Florida. Matriculating in the North Miami facilities of the former Southeastern University of Health Sciences, the first class completed their training in the new Health Professions Division of the newly merged Nova Southeastern University in 1995. The Southwest Florida Program in Ft. Myers enrolled its initial class in 2005, the Orlando program began in 2007, and the program in Jacksonville accepted its inaugural class in 2009.

New, dedicated classroom facilities utilizing the latest, state-of-the-art technologies are located in all facilities. . Each of the programs uses advanced patient simulation technology and makes extensive use of online resources to facilitate learning.

The extensive network of clinical training sites throughout Florida are managed collaboratively by the four programs utilizing a shared, online resource optimizing the scheduling, reporting, evaluation and data gathering. Clinical experience opportunities range from the large urban centers to rural and underserved areas in partnership with the Florida AHEC system which provides housing in several areas.  Students, as well as faculty, participate in a wide variety of volunteer community service events in their respective areas, including the annual Florida Rural Medical Mission providing valuable interdisciplinary service-learning experiences.

The Physician Assistant programs, while separately accredited, share a common mission to educate caring and competent health care providers vital to providing access to those in need of basic health care and as leaders in the transformation of the health care system.

About Nova Southeastern University (NSU): The main campus is located in Davie, Florida and one of its seven Student Educational Centers is located in Jacksonville.  NSU is a dynamic fully accredited Florida University dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs of distinction from preschool through the professional and doctoral levels. NSU has more than 29,000 students and is the seventh largest not-for-profit independent institution nationally. The University awards associate’s, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, specialist, and first-professional degrees in a wide range of fields, including business, counseling, computer and information sciences, education, medicine, optometry, pharmacy, dentistry, various health professions, law, marine sciences, early childhood, psychology and other social sciences.  Classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU was also awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification in 2010 for the University’s significant commitment to and demonstration of community engagement.   For more information about NSU visit www.nova.edu.

Media contact:
Julie Spechler
NSU Office of Public Affairs
954-262-5348 work
954-614-3800 cell