From the Director

Paul R. Chelminski, MD, MPH, FACP

Thank you for your interest in the UNC Chapel Hill Physician Assistant (PA) master’s degree program currently being developed within the UNC School of Medicine, Department of Allied Health Sciences. This important new endeavor has drawn attention from across North Carolina and the United States, both because of its potential to help improve health care throughout the state and because of its goal to enroll military veterans.

After World War II, the University of North Carolina played a crucial role in addressing the critical health care needs of the state.  In the 1950s, the four-year medical school and the UNC Memorial Hospital were established in direct response to the fact that citizens of the state were more likely than any other to be excused for military duty based on medical grounds during the war.  This unwanted distinction was seen as a strong marker of unmet medical needs in the general population.  The people of North Carolina and their elected representatives were determined to rectify this. In the 1970s, UNC was at the forefront in developing the Area Health Education System (AHEC) that decentralized medical care and education in the state and brought it to other geographic areas.  The UNC Physician Assistant Program is a new phase in our university’s commitment to meet the healthcare and health workforce needs of the state.

We hope the information on this Web site will help to answer any questions you have about the program’s current status and planned future. Below are some points that address the most frequent inquiries we have received over the past few months.

  • The UNC PA program will be open to all qualified applicants. Click here for provisional admission requirements.
  • Veterans, especially those with military medical backgrounds and those from the U.S. Army Special Forces, are encouraged to apply.
  • The UNC PA program is currently the only program in North Carolina with a stated goal to enroll veterans, and our admissions review will recognize and provide credit for military service. Veterans, like all other applicants, must meet the minimum requirements for admissions.
  • The UNC PA program is not yet accepting applications for admission. We plan to have information available around April 2015 finalizing the admissions process.

The plan to establish a PA program at UNC Chapel Hill was first announced in December 2012. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and the UNC School of Medicine, with input from U.S. Army Special Forces Command, developed a plan for a program that could provide a pathway for U.S. Army Special Forces Medical Sergeants to translate the skills and expertise gained through military service into a civilian career. BCBSNC made a $1.2 million commitment to help the University launch the program, and the William Kenan Charitable Trust has awarded $1 million dollars earmarked to rural health, scholarships, and veteran student programs.  We are grateful for the vision and support of these organizations.

 The next two years will be very exciting as the UNC PA program receives approval and accreditation, hires faculty, welcomes its first students, and begins classes. We look forward to all of these milestones and many more to come.


Paul R. Chelminski, MD, MPH, FACP
Clinical Professor of Medicine
Director, UNC Physician Assistant Program