Red Rocks Community College
News Release

Red Rocks Community College
News Release
More information: Kim Rein



Red Rocks PA Program Receives $300,000 Grant
Grant to address healthcare provider shortage in rural Colorado

The Colorado Health Foundation has awarded the Red Rocks Community College Foundation on behalf of the Physician Assistant (PA) program a $309,079, two-year grant that will increase the numbers of committed and highly qualified Physician Assistants practicing in Colorado’s rural and medically underserved communities. The project is a collaborative effort between Red Rocks Community College and Foundation, Colorado Counties Incorporated, Colorado Municipal League, and the Special Districts Association who together make up the Colorado Collaboration for Rural Healthcare Access formed in 2010 in response to the existing and projected shortages of primary care providers in Colorado.

The physician assistant program at Red Rocks Community College will serve as the project lead for the two year initiative that will encourage and prepare graduates from the RRCC PA program to work in rural underserved communities, encourage rural residents to pursue careers as physician assistants, and support communities in developing or enhancing healthcare provider recruitment and retention strategies. To achieve these goals, RRCC will work with existing partners including Colorado Area Health Education Centers, Colorado Community Health Network, Colorado Rural Health, University of Colorado Physician Assistant Program, and Colorado Academy of Family Physicians.

“A primary care Physician Assistant can perform 80% or more of the tasks in the supervising physician’s scope of practice,” explains RRCC PA Program Director, Debra Nickell, PhD, PA-C. “ In the State of Colorado, where one physician can supervise up to four full-time PA’s or the equivalent, that means that training more PAs to work in rural areas with primary care provider shortages could quadruple the amount of access to Health Care for that area.

Studies show that when health professions students have good experiences while training in rural communities, they can be favorably influenced to practice in a rural location later on. In addition, students that come from rural communities are twice as likely to practice in a rural community.

More about the Red Rocks PA program: Physician Assistants (PAs) are health professionals authorized by law to practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician. Within the physician/PA relationship, physician assistants may exercise delegated autonomy, providing many diagnostic and therapeutic services. Red Rocks' physician assistant program offers rigorous courses leading to a certificate in PA Studies and prepares the student for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), administered by the National Commission for the Certification of Physician Assistants
(NCCPA). After passing the PANCE, graduates are eligible for licensure in any state. Students admitted to the PA program can also co-register at St. Francis University to pursue a fully accredited master's degree. For further information please see

More about Red Rocks Community College: Established in 1969, Red Rocks Community College delivers high-quality, affordable education programs leading to two-year degrees or professional certificates. The college serves over 15,000 students per year online and at campus locations in Lakewood and Arvada.

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