First four physician assistant graduates from Clarkson join Canton – Potsdam Hospital
Sunday, July 27, 2014 - 8:40 am

POTSDAM – Four members of the first class of graduates from Clarkson University’s physician assistant master of science program have joined Canton-Potsdam Hospital’s medical staff.

Mariah L. Franclemont and Ryan J. Mazzone will work in primary care, Tonya J. Seymour will become part of the hospitalist program, and Amber N. Wagg will join the staff of the hospital’s Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Services.

"This is great news from all directions,” said Chuck Thorpe, senior vice president and provost of Clarkson. In addition to starting careers in a much-in-demand field, “four more Clarkson grads get to stay in the North Country; and our partners at CPH are able to build up their staff," he said.

This will bring to 26 the number of PAs on Canton-Potsdam Hospital’s medical staff. They see patients in a variety of settings, such as health centers in the communities the hospital serves, and hospital treatment rooms and operating rooms.

“Our medical staff recruitment process is selective,” said Canton-Potsdam Hospital President and CEO David B. Acker. “In collaborating with Clarkson University to provide clinical practice rotations for students in its PA program, we are seeking high quality as well as knowledge of the culture of the North Country, including its most prevalent health issues,” he said. “Our medical staff is one of our strengths. The Clarkson University program is a ‘home-grown’ approach to maintaining that strength,” he added.

"One of the missions of our PA program is for our graduates to remain in the North Country to meet the health care needs of the people who live and work in this region," said Michael Whitehead, chair of Clarkson's PA program. "I am delighted that a number of our graduates are choosing to stay here.

“The CPH medical staff and administration have been ardent supporters of our program from the beginning and are aggressively meeting the need for access to quality health care in this area. It is fitting that our graduates have chosen to become part of the CPH team," Whitehead said.

Master’s degree students in physician assistant studies must complete 82 credit hours of advanced-level coursework and healthcare-based clinical rotations, all within 28 consecutive months.

Candidates for the degree are expected to carry a full-time course load in addition to conducting original research and participating in community service. Their clinical rotations are intended to give them exposure to a broad array of healthcare settings and issues, with the intent that graduates will select a focus area in which to practice.

For example, Mariah Franclemont is looking forward “to be part of the solution here at home. Having grown up in the North Country, I am sensitive to the healthcare problems common to this area.”

Amber Wagg chose the chemical dependency rehabilitation field after serving as an aide in a detox unit before pursuing the advanced degree.

Tonya Seymour said the team-oriented environment was an attraction. At C-PH, she said, “one of the most striking things about this institution is how well everyone works together. Each and every employee is recognized as an important part of the patient’s team. It’s an honor to join that team.”

Ryan Mazzone said the program’s training “taught us to work as part of a team with physicians, nurses, patient representatives, and other specialists. CPH's model of care fits very well with this teaching, and it results in more comprehensive and complete medical care for their patients.”

“Physician assistants are full members of our medical staff, and they share our patient-centered approach to managing care across practice areas, from outpatient procedures, to office visits, to surgery, to the inpatient units,” said Dr. Timothy K. Atkinson, C-PH hospitalist program medical director. “They are highly skilled members of the team.”

"Not too long ago, Clarkson’s board of trustees approved our new physician assistant program, which complements our successful doctor of physical therapy program,” said Clarkson’s Thorpe. “Today, physician assistant and physical therapist are both in the U.S. News & World Report list of the 25 Best Jobs of 2014. I wish our first class of physician assistants well, as they fulfill a critical need here in the North Country and in many other communities."