Franklin College has received a nearly $1 million grant that will help the college launch a new master’s degree program for medical assistants.
Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded Franklin College $998,395 that will pay for the launch of the college’s new physician assistant studies program during the next five years. Students will be able to start enrolling in the new graduate program during the 2017-18 school year, with the first class of 20 graduating in 2019, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college David Brailow said.
Students also will be able to participate in a new schedule where they spend three years working on bachelor’s degrees in fields such as biology, spend their fourth year ending their bachelor’s work and starting their master’s work and complete work on their master’s degree during the fifth year, Brailow said.
The Lilly Endowment grant should enable Franklin College to pay for the new degree program’s expenses, including new employees’ salaries, through 2018.
The college then would use the tuition money from the 20 students enrolled in the program each year to cover the costs. While the college offers financial aid for undergraduates, right now there is no assistance available for graduate students, Brailow said.
The new degree program is a part of Franklin College’s overall plan to expand its science program.
That expansion will include the creation of a master’s degree in athletics training, which is being considered for approval by the college’s faculty, and the addition of classrooms, labs and research facilities for undergraduates at Barnes Science Hall.
Just more than 1,000 students were attending Franklin College at the start of the semester, which is in line with college officials’ goals. And while administrators aren’t trying to boost enrollment, they expect more students will want to come to Franklin College as word of the new degree programs and expanded science offerings spread.
“We’re not looking to grow our undergraduate enrollment, necessarily, but obviously colleges are always looking for new student populations to draw upon, and looking for high-ability students. And we think it will enhance our ability to recruit students,” Brailow said.
Franklin College officials decided to add the physician assistant studies program after meeting with the leaders of hospitals, clinics and retirement homes in central Indiana.
Those representatives told officials that they needed more people trained to work as mid-level care providers for patients, filling jobs such as physicians assistants and nursing assistants, Brailow said.
“We know that there’s an increasing need for mid-level providers, and this will help to meet that need,” Brailow said.
Before the physician assistant studies program launches, Franklin College will need to hire a program director and a medical director, as well as three more faculty members. College officials don’t know whether those faculty members will work full-time at the college and expect they’ll likely have jobs at hospitals or clinics, Brailow said.
Franklin College’s master’s degree program in athletics training would be separate from the physician assistant studies program.
The college’s faculty will vote on whether to approve the athletics training program later this week. If approved, the Franklin College board of trustees will vote on whether to approve it early next year.
If the athletics training program is approved, it would begin during the 2016-17 school year, with the first class graduating in 2018, Brailow said.
Athletics trainers can now receive their athletics training license with a bachelor’s degree, which the college now offers, but trainers soon could be required to have a master’s degree to receive certification, and the college wants to continue to ensure its students will be able to find jobs in that field, Brailow said.