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Christian Brothers University PA Program Awarded HRSA Grant

Grant will fund project to deliver primary care services in medically underserved communities

MEMPHIS – The Physician Assistant Studies program at Christian Brothers University (CBU) has been awarded an $835,00 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The five-year grant will fund a project to strengthen access and deliver primary care services in rural, medically underserved communities with high levels of poverty in five rural Mississippi counties and portions of two urban counties — Shelby County in Tennessee and DeSoto County in Mississippi.

The CBU Physician Assistant (PA) program is partnering with Mississippi-based Delta Health Alliance (DHA), a non-profit committed to changing healthcare and education in the Mississippi Delta through access to health services, promoting healthier lifestyles, and expanding educational opportunities.

“We were thrilled to receive the HRSA grant,” said program director Teresa Preston. “This funding will go a long way to enhance PA training and to support our mission of providing care for many of the underserved and impoverished people in our service region.”

“This new collaborative is expected to make a significant impact on improving access to healthcare in some of our most underserved communities,” stated Dr. Karen Matthews, president and CEO of DHA,  pointing out that 33.1% of the residents live in poverty and 14.3% of adults have been diagnosed with diabetes. “Through these new clinical rotations, CBU’s PA students will gain additional knowledge and experience needed to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and work as part of a patient-centered care team in low-income, medically underserved communities.”

A secondary goal of the program is to encourage students who have participated in the program and enjoyed the experience to return after graduation to begin careers serving the underserved in these and other rural communities. 

DHA counselor Anthony Wood said that the training CBU’s PA students are getting in medically underserved communities creates “a real win-win for everyone and can make a significant impact on improving access to services in our region.” Among the services to be delivered to CBU PA students are workshops and lectures on rural healthcare, opioids and substance abuse, and mental health. Wood noted that participants will also be taught mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which combines the ideas of cognitive therapy with meditative practices, for the treatment of depression and other mood disorders.

“We are really looking forward to this partnership,” added Beth McCullers, associate vice president of sponsored programs at DHA. “CBU’s PA students are a desperately-needed resource for our rural communities.” 

“At CBU, one of our core Lasallian principles is concern for the poor and social justice,” said Dr. James McGuffee, dean of the School of Sciences at CBU. “In full alignment with this principle, I am so pleased that our graduate program in PA Studies will be working in collaboration with the Delta Health Alliance on this important project.”  

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program at CBU trains physician assistants to better serve patients in the community, region, state, and nation. The program’s emphasis is on evidence-based primary care and preventive medicine, the provision of healthcare to the medically underserved, and the use of information technology in medicine. The program promotes interdisciplinary team care, patient advocacy, and the delivery of primary health care for all patients.

For more information on the CBU Physician Assistant Studies Program or the HRSA grant, please contact Teresa Preston at (901) 321-4126 or More information on the program is also available at

Posted by Cory Dugan at 11:41 AM