Student: Brittany Anundson
Hometown: Wishek, North Dakota
Undergraduate degree: Bachelor of
Science in Respiratory Care
University of North Dakota Physician Assistant
A medical provider in a rural area has many roles and
responsibilities. To better prepare these professionals
for the variety of cases and patients they will
encounter, the University of North Dakota School of
Medicine and Health Sciences offers a Physician Assistant
program that allows students to utilize a unique
combination of online course material, on-campus
(didactic) courses and clinical experience at the site of
the student's choosing.
I am impressed with the organization of the program and
the very knowledgeable, professional and kind faculty.
This is what made the program so appealing to Brittany
"I was able to work while taking online classes the first
two semesters, spend a month here and there in Grand
Forks, and then return to my home for clinicals,"
Anundson said. "Most other programs require you to stay
on campus the entire time and I did not want to have to
move my family."
This 24-month program is organized so that a student's
first two semesters of online courses cover the topics of
pathophysiology, pharmacology, anatomy and statistics.
From there, students take five on-campus sessions over 18
weeks, each comprised of four to five classes, which
teach practice examination and procedure techniques.
Following this, the students complete their clinicals and
are exposed to family medicine, emergency care, and
surgery at their local sites while they complete the
remaining online courses.
A unique aspect of the program is that students are able
to select a primary preceptor from the local sites where
they work to mentor them for their clinical rotations.
"The first two semesters prepare you with a great
knowledge base that becomes more applicable during
clinical practice," Anundson said. "The didactic allows
you to learn and practice exam techniques on fellow
classmates or actors, and prepares you for when you begin
Anundson, having grown up in a rural area, wishes to
return to an underserved area to practice.
"A rural provider can be responsible for a vast range of
patients, from the young to the old, from the healthy to
the chronically ill," Anundson said. "This is enticing to
me because of the exposure to different scenarios,
patients and experiences."
To others wishing to apply to this program, Anundson says
"do it and don't wait." But, she warns, "be prepared for
a lot of independent learning, studying and a massive
amount of information heading your way."
Back to: Rural Student
Profiles | Winter 2015 Issue