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Montage Health says CSUMB losing Physician Assistance program will hurt local healthcare worker recruitment

SEASIDE, Calif. (KION-TV)- UPDATE: With the Physician Assistance program at CSUMB shutting down in May 2024, the CEO of Montage Medical Group reacted to the news and said it will make their hiring process more difficult.

"My concern is when programs like this go away, that we lose access to locally trained physician assistants who we always thought from inception by practicing in our community and stand in our community by providing care," said Dr. Mark Carvalho, CEO of Montage Medical Group.

Montage Health experts said they donated $600,000 to the Physician Assistance program since 2018. It was an effort to expand access to healthcare for the people in Monterey County.

CSUMB said the loss of accreditation only pertains to the Physician Assistance program, and it will not impact other programs at the university.

Montage health experts said these types of programs would help recruit healthcare workers in the area, but now they say they need to think out of the box.

"If we would've had a bunch of more Luke's, we'd be very happy,”  said Dr. Mark Carvalho, CEO of Montage Medical Group. "But unfortunately, we need to figure out how to recruit folks from outside the area.”

CSUMB students thought the news of the Physician Assistance program ending was unfortunate.

"I just feel very bad for the students," said Maya Hernandez, who is a junior. "I don't know any of them personally, but recently it's been hard because the VPA program also got their funding cut because we merged with the music program."

A spokesperson with California State University, Monterey Bay confirmed to KION that their physician assistant program has lost accreditation and will shut down in May 2024.

The program which has been offered at the university since 2019 has graduated 84 students and currently has 56 students enrolled in the program at this moment.

In a statement, Andrew Lawson who is the Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs said the following.

"Unfortunately, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has withdrawn accreditation from the California State University, Monterey Bay Master of Science Physician Assistant Program effective May 2024," the University said. "In working through the impacts of the program closure, our top priority is to ensure that our students are supported in finding a path forward to complete their degrees, and we have met with or set up times to meet with all of our enrolled students in the class of 2024 and class of 2025, as well as those admitted for the class of 2026."

The university said that second-year students who are graduating in Spring 2024 will be able to complete their degrees on time.

Lawson said they are working with students who are graduating in 2025 through 2026 and are identifying accredited alternative programs to support them in a path forward to completing the clinical portion of their program.

We reached out to the Accreditation Review Commission on why accreditation was withdrawn from CSUMB's physician assistant program and waiting to hear back.

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Derrick Ow

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