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First UNR Med Physician Assistant Class picks up diplomas

Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 5:30 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Practicing social distancing and mask wearing, the first graduating class from UNR Med’s Physician Assistant Program picked up their diplomas on the afternoon of September 1, 2020.

There are 24 students in this class, they come from all aspects of the health and medical community.

Two of the students are brother and sister duo Ryan and Amanda Wong. “So I want to go into primary care,” says Ryan, “But my focus is a little bit on LGBTQ medicine HIV prevention, STI prevention and prophylaxis things like that,” he says.

Amanda says her options are wide open. “There is family medicine, pediatrics. Neurology, and possibly aerospace medicine as well,” she says.

These two, as well as their fellow students, began the program back in 2018.

Normally they would have graduated in July. COVID forced the class to take clinical courses over the internet. But the students had to eventually return to clinic and hands-on care.

“One of the positives is they have learned to deal with the stress that perhaps no one in our generation has been able to deal with,” says Brian Lauf, Physician Assistant Study Program Director and Developer. “And hopefully they will be better clinicians from that. Understanding their patients’ concerns about it as well. This being the first class; they’ve experienced many firsts, and this is another on the list of firsts for them,” he says.

The students say they couldn’t have done it without the support of local medical professionals as well as their fellow classmates.

While many already have jobs, others are weighing their options--which are many.

Lauf says he wants the students to follow their dreams. But he hopes those dreams include staying in Nevada.

The physician assistant program will be taking applications for the class of 2023 from now until January.

UNR Med’s Physician Assistant Program is one of 250 accredited programs across the country.

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