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King University News :: Physician Assistant Program Perfect Path for KU Alumnus Isaac Snapp

BRISTOL, Tenn. July 10, 2014 – King University alumnus Isaac Snapp always knew he wanted to work in the healthcare industry. After weighing the pros and cons of several healthcare career paths, he found the perfect fit. Snapp is currently in graduate school in Charleston, S.C., studying for his master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

“I knew I wanted to do something healthcare related, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” said Snapp. “I checked out several different programs including pharmacy school and medical school. I shadowed a few Pharmacists and discovered that path was not for me. I wanted something a bit fast paced without spending the extensive time required to become a physician. Physician Assistant Studies was a perfect fit to the career path for which I was seeking.

“A physician assistant has similar responsibilities to that of a doctor, but the program is 27 months. I will go straight through for 27 months, graduate, then be able to start work immediately,” added Snapp. “Currently, my plan is to focus on primary care.”

According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (USDLBLS), physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine on a team under the supervision of physicians and surgeons. They are formally educated to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment. PAs typically work in physician’s offices, hospitals, and other healthcare settings.

The USDLBLS estimates the employment of physician assistants is projected to grow 38 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Increased demand for healthcare services from the growing and aging population and widespread chronic disease, combined with a shortage of physicians, will result in increased demand for healthcare providers, such as physician assistants.

Within ten days after graduating from King University with his bachelor’s degree in Biology and Mathematics and a minor in Chemistry in May 2013, Snapp had moved to Charleston, and started his PA courses on the campus of MUSC. “Having lived in Bluff City, Tenn., my whole life and then having such a huge change in a span of ten days was a bit of a shock. The first semester was basically getting our feet wet. One aspect of the program that is relatively unique is that MUSC is one of the few PA schools to have its own cadaver lab. The program also includes nine five-week clinical rotations.”

Snapp noted that his education at King prepared him well for the Physician Assistant Studies program. “There were more than 750 applications for the PA program. Out of the 60+ students accepted I felt I was at least on par with or ahead of them in preparation because of the course load I had at King.”

During his time at King, Snapp, along with fellow student Kenneth McVey, was awarded grant funding for scientific research through the Colonel Lee B. Ledford Student Research Endowment. Their research proposal stated pesticide exposure might lead to neuro-degeneration in the offspring of someone who was exposed. McVey’s research focused mainly on the incidents of diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, while Snapp’s focused mainly on the incidents of autism as a result of pesticide exposure to the mother.  Snapp’s research proposal stated that pesticide exposure in someone who is pregnant may lead to neuro-degeneration in their offspring.

“One of the biggest takeaways from my research work at King was it gave me a different perspective on how to think,” said Snapp. “Some students in the PA program have struggled to ‘think outside the box.’ My research at King taught me to utilize critical thinking skills, which greatly benefit me now in my PA studies.”

Snapp will complete the Physician Assistant Studies program in Aug. 2015, after which he will sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam.

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King University is a Presbyterian, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit www.king.edu. King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.