Students complete an Elon undergraduate degree in 3.5 years and gain an opportunity for admission to the highly selective Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and Doctor of Physical Therapy programs within the School of Health Sciences.
In the dynamic realm of healthcare, education plays a pivotal role in shaping future professionals.
Elon University’s Accelerated Pathways Program stands out as a unique pathway, enabling students to complete their Elon undergraduate degree in 3.5 years and gain an opportunity for admission to the highly selective Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and Doctor of Physical Therapy programs within the Elon School of Health Sciences.
Initiated in 2020, the program achieved a significant milestone in January 2024 by enrolling six students in the PA and PT graduate studies programs.
With a current enrollment in the Accelerated Pathways Program of over 50 students, the program emphasizes practical experience, boasting cohorts that have accumulated more than 10,000 hours in the medical field.
Complemented by a diverse range of programming leveraging Elon’s liberal arts education, students actively engage in global education, study abroad opportunities, interprofessional activities, undergraduate research, service initiatives, and leadership experiences. This holistic approach ensures graduates are well-rounded, equipped to navigate healthcare complexities with a global perspective and a commitment to addressing health inequities.
The hands-on advising aspect of the program is pivotal, providing crucial support for academic success.
“The hands-on advising aspect of the program gave me a great idea of how to best prepare for graduate school and reassured me that I was checking all the boxes needed to graduate on time,” said Sarah Newman, a current PA student who earned her Bachelor of Science in biology.
Newman expressed gratitude for her advisor, who facilitated diverse medical experiences, including serving as the assistant site director/medical responder for the San Diego Padres Kids Baseball Camps.
Ethan Rafal, an exercise science graduate and current PT student, echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the invaluable help from advisors whenever needed.
The program’s commitment to diverse experiences is evident in students’ pursuits beyond academics. Grace Huisking, an Exercise Science graduate, and current PA student, shared her experience as a D1-level cheerleader, emphasizing the leadership and communication skills gained during her captaincy in the last season.
The commitment to accommodating diverse interests is further highlighted by Keira Oyen, an exercise xcience major and human service studies minor now enrolled in the PT program. Despite initial concerns about the accelerated timeline, Oyen not only fulfilled her dream of studying abroad in New Zealand for a month but was also able to study a semester in Australia and integrate a sports medicine class into her experience, enriching her future PT practice.
Tracey Thurnes, an associate professor of Physician Assistant Studies and director of the Accelerated Pathways Program, emphasizes that central to the program’s mission is cultivating inclusive leadership and addressing health inequities.
As the program director, Thurnes empowers students through hands-on advising, guiding them to articulate how their educational and experiential journey shapes them as future healthcare providers.
As the program evolves, it remains a beacon of excellence in healthcare education, nurturing the next generation of leaders who will shape the dynamic field of healthcare.