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Posted on Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Eastern Michigan University building to undergo $3.6M renovation in preparation for new PA program

By Kellie Woodhouse


Eastern Michigan University

A 74-year-old building at Eastern Michigan University is undergoing a $3.6 million renovation so it can house the school's new physician's assistant program, which will launch in spring 2014.

The school's Board of Regents approved the new program in June 2012, citing a need in the area for such a program and that PA jobs are expected to grow 30 percent during the next decade. There are five PA training programs in the state and the closest to the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area are in Detroit.


EMU's Rackham building was first constructed in 1939.

EMU Photo

Throughout the past year, program director Jay Peterson has developed the curriculum and hired staff, including three faculty members, an administrative assistant and a medical director. There are plans to hire two more faculty and another staffer.

"We know this is a high-demand profession. We know there is a need with our large medical centers," Peterson said.

To make way for the program, EMU is retrofitting Rackham Hall, originally built in 1939, in order to bring mechanical systems up to date and make the space more conducive to medical education. The renovation will include a suite of primary care medical office-style examination rooms, in which cameras will be available to evaluate students' performance.

It also will include areas meant for group collaboration.

The idea with the renovation, officials say, is to emphasize hands-on training in order to support the PA program's problem-based learning curriculum. EMU will partner with St. Joseph Mercy Hospital on clinical rotations for students and a human anatomy cadaver laboratory, which most-likely will be located at the hospital, Peterson said.

The first class of PA students will matriculate in May 2014. It's expected to include about 20 students, who will earn their professional master's degree after two years of training. The 2014 class will include 30 students and every class to follow will include 40 students.

According to Peterson, the program is likely to be competitive. Applications are due in September and the school already has received more than 200.

Tuition for the program is expected to be on-par with EMU's other graduate offerings, which range from $6,042 to $6,878 a year.

EMU is expecting to gain accreditation for the program in September.

TMP Associates, an architectural firm in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. and Peter Basso Associates, an engineering firm in Troy, Mich. are designing the project.

Construction bid documents will be issued the second week of July, with bids due the first week of August. The contract will be awarded the second week in August and construction will begin soon afterward. The project is set to finish in March.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

You may want to double check your numbers on tuition. According to the EMU PA student handbook the least expensive term is $7911, and they go up from there. The two year program has a price tag of over $60,000.

Dog Guy

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 5:05 p.m.

After 164 years, EMU plans to start training almost doctors in a pretnear medical school. This is wonderful news, but I expect that any medical practitioner must take a pay cut to teach at EMU.

Ralph Pasola

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

Further, after 2015 nurse practitioners will have to have a doctoral degree.

Ralph Pasola

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

Not necessarily! EMU pays what the market will bare for professionals. And P.A.'s are not almost like doctors. Nurse practitioners have to first have a BSN to become a nurse practitioner. NP's make more money, can hang out their shingle and get a surgical assist certificate. PA's have tp always defer to the MD.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

Exciting news!! Go EMU!!


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

Great! It's a wonderful profession. I'm surprised UM doesn't have a program. Yay EMU!

VO Key

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

Yes, why doesn't uofm just have every program? Seems odd to me that we would have a need for multiple universities especially when uofm does such a fine job keeping talented grads in state.

Renee VanEpps

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:38 p.m.

Very excited for EMU :) I was also so surprised that the UofM didn't have this program already.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

So am I