Physician Assistant Studies Program awarded accreditation

Program combats shortage of Nevada healthcare providers and improves healthcare access

UNR Med PA Studies Program Founding Director, Brian Lauf, PA-C

University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine Physician Assistant Studies Program Founding Director, Brian Lauf, PA-C.

A new program to increase healthcare professionals for northern Nevada and the state has received the green light to move forward. The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine Physician Assistant (PA) Studies Program received Accreditation-Provisional by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education (ARC-PA). The first class of 24 PA students begins instruction on July 2, 2018 at the University of Nevada, Reno Redfield Campus in south Reno. 

UNR Med's PA Studies Program is the first such program in the Nevada System of Higher Education and supports the Educated and Healthy Citizenry priority outlined in Governor Brian Sandoval's Strategic Priorities. The School of Medicine joined forces with key healthcare partner, Renown Health, to provide program development, start-up and clinical training. Longtime supporter William N. Pennington Foundation has provided critical facility, equipment and technology support.  

Students will attend a 25-month, full-time professional master's degree program that includes academic and clinical courses, clinical skills training and supervised clinical practice. Upon completion, PAs are qualified to conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, write prescriptions and even deliver babies.  

"Today's announcement is a testament to the unwavering commitment of our School of Medicine, our University, our community partners and our state over the past four years to make a PA Studies program a reality at UNR Med," said University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine Dean, Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D. "This high impact program is positioned for success under the leadership of Founding Director, Brian Lauf, PA-C, and the exemplary faculty, students and curriculum that will produce PAs who are prepared to enter practice immediately after graduation."  

The new program is key to UNR Med and Renown Health's joint focus on training the next generation of healthcare providers and addressing the shortage of providers in the region. Before the partnership, the closest PA program was located in Sacramento, California.  

"This collaboration is another example of how Renown and UNR Med work together to ensure access to high quality care for our growing community," said Doug Merrill, M.D., MBA, MA, executive vice president, chief medical and academic officer at Renown Health. "PAs are important assets as they work in our medical teams to provide excellent care to the patients of northern Nevada, which is why we're excited this program is here to keep highly skilled providers in Nevada."  

A particular focus of the program is attracting and training qualified candidates from rural and urban underserved communities in Nevada. Data shows medical professionals tend to stay and practice within the communities where they train further demonstrating the long-term impact the program will have on increasing available healthcare professionals in rural and urban areas.  

An invite-only event for students, faculty, program supporters, healthcare leaders and dignitaries to commemorate the launch of the PA Studies Program is scheduled for Friday, June 15 at the Redfield Campus, 18600 Wedge Parkway in Reno. A public open house will follow from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  

For more on the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine PA Studies Program visit Information about Accreditation-Provisional status and what that means to a PA program is available at

For PA Studies Program FAQ's and additional photos, please click the "Download the Press Packet" button, below.

Media Contacts

Julie Ardito, APR
Senior Director, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 784-6006

Tessa Bowen, MPA
Communications Manager, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 682-9254

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Nevada's first public medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Established in 1969, UNR Med is improving the health and well-being of all Nevadans and their communities through excellence in student education, postgraduate training and clinical care, research with local, national and global impact and a culture of diversity and inclusion.