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  • Gabrielle Hendricks

New Health Program to Help and Serve

Gabrielle Hendricks


A new development is underway in the health sciences program at the Mount. The university is planning to introduce a Physician Assistant graduate degree, as an inaugural program housed in the new Graduate School of Health Professions.


This new school is an effort in collaboration with the Daughters of Charity, a community of sisters of the Catholic Church whose mission is to serve Christ through the poor.  


The Graduate School of Health Professions will address the medical need in the area. It will equip students to become skilled and knowledgeable physician assistants to provide wider access to healthcare in Emmitsburg and nearby communities.  


It will be located in the E wing of the St. Joseph’s House in Emmitsburg, only two miles from the Mount’s main campus. The Daughters of Charity has leased the E wing to the Graduate School of Health Professions. 


This development is central to the Daughters of Charity not just because of the goal of helping those in need, but also because many Daughters of Charity are alumni of Mount’s former sister school, St. Joseph’s College’s nursing program. The wing of the St. Joseph’s House where the sisters live is also situated near the St. Elizabeth Anne Seton Shrine, and many of St. Elizabeth Anne Seton’s sisters were nurses. 


A Daughter of Charity and Mount educator, Sr. Anne Higgins, discussed further about the history of nursing in her community: “A number of her sisters [in reference to Elizabeth Seton] were nurses and they nursed the soldiers after the Battle of Gettysburg on these very grounds.” Students of this new school will be entering into a rich and historic tradition of serving people in health care. 


The COVID-19 pandemic is an important factor in the development of this initiative of rolling out the Graduate Physician Assistant Program.


Dean of the School of Health Professions, Dr. Christine McCauslin said, “There is a huge provider need, and particularly post COVID-19, there is a huge provider burn out.” The effect of the pandemic three years after can be felt in the healthcare community and McCauslin hopes the program contributes as a solution to the problem.  


Filling such a huge gap in healthcare will not be easy, but the work will be a significant contribution. Program Director of the Physician Assistant Program and alumnus (C’05), Mary Jackson, stated, “Like most P.A. programs across the nation, it is very rigorous as it consists of 119 credits in two years.”


Despite the time and work commitment needed for the program, Jackson knows the Mount can make it an enjoyable and worthwhile experience for students. “I want to make the classroom come alive like the Mount does so well,” Jackson remarked. 


The collaboration to build the Graduate School of Health Professions is fundamental to the mission of the Mount and Daughters of Charity of serving God and others. 


Overhead view of the home for the new Graduate PA Program

Photo by: Mount Advancement Office



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