Xavier University of Louisiana Debuts a Physician Assistant Degree Program

Xavier University of Louisiana has partnered with Ochsner Health System to establish a new physician assistant program. This new program makes Xavier one of four colleges in Louisiana, one of two in New Orleans, and one of only three historically Black colleges and universities in the nation to offer a physician assistant program. The new degree program will be the 12th master’s degree program at Xavier University.

Varsha Castro Gusman has been appointed as director of the program and as a clinical assistant professor of professional programs in the physician assistant department.

Following three semesters of classroom instruction, students in the new program will complete approximately 2,000 hours of hands-on clinical experience through 11 rotations at various Ochsner Health System facilities.

“The physician assistant program at Xavier University has the potential to have a great impact on the health of our communities,” said Gusman. “Graduates will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to advocate for patients, reduce disparities in access to health care, recognize and treat disorders, and advance prevention of chronic disease.”

Gusman earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Xavier University and a master’s degree in the physician assistant program at Our Lady of the Lake College in Baton Rouge.


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