August 21, 2009

Dorris named Physician Assistant Program director

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Jason Dorris, interim director of the Physician Assistant Program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale since April 2008, is now the program’s director.

Dorris, who is from West Frankfort, began his tenure with the University’s PA program in 2007 as a clinical assistant professor. He also has been a certified physician assistant at the VA Medical Center and Marion and at Southern Illinois Urology in Herrin. He was previously a urological medical office assistant for Dr. Rahim Asgard in Herrin as well.

Dorris is an SIUC alumnus, earning his bachelor’s degree in the Physician Assistant Program as well as a bachelor’s degree in physiology at the University. He holds a master of physician assistant studies from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb. His associate of science degree is from John A. Logan College in Carterville.

Accredited since 1997, the PA program anticipates its first accreditation site visit in seven years in December. Dorris said 2009 is a big year for the program for several reasons. The first master’s degree class graduated this month, 23 members strong.

In addition, the program has expanded this year. The previous enrollment cap was 24, but the class that began the program in June has 30 students. The School of Allied Health within the College of Applied Sciences and Arts at SIUC offers the program in cooperation with the SIU School of Medicine.

The program, using a problem-based learning format, has 10 faculty members and seven staff, and its graduation and placement rates are exceptionally high. The overall national certification rate for all PA graduates exceeds 99 percent and within three months of graduation, the employment rate is 100 percent.

Dorris said he has additional goals and hopes for the PA program too. There are already “hub” sites for the program in Springfield, Decatur, Quincy, Mattoon, and Olney, and he said they’re working toward additional sites beginning with the Peoria/Pekin area. In addition, he said that in the field, physician assistants work extensively with other healthcare professionals, including social workers, nurses, and doctors, and he’ll be seeking ways to increase this interaction and teamwork for students as well.

To find out more about the program, check the program’s Web site at or cal 618/453-8850.