The graduates of Rocky Mountain College’s physician assistant program will receive white coats as part of their graduation ceremony, which starts at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
“They’re amazing,” said Heather Heggem, PA program director. “These students are really impressive.”
Rocky’s PA program runs basically nonstop for two years. Students start classes in July and runs for two years with minimal breaks in their study and course schedules.
The graduation ceremony is a highlight not just because its marks the students’ completion of the program, but because they receive the white coats they’ll wear as they go to work in hospitals, medical centers, doctors offices and clinics.
“They definitely earn it,” Heggem said. “It’s a really difficult and competitive program.”
It’s a master’s program and it focuses primarily on teaching students professionalism and strict safety in the medical field as they learn the biology, physiology and anatomy required for the job.
In all, 30 will graduate Wednesday. Over the course of the next month, they’ll take their board certification exams and then head off to work.
Job placement is high for the college. In Heggem’s four years with the PA program, she’s never had a graduate not get hired. Billings is a regional medical hub for the area and demand for physician assistants is high and that helps, she said.
In fact, many of the graduates — who come to Rocky from all over the country — chose to stay in Billings to work. This year’s graduates come from as far away as Portland, Ore. and Dallas, Texas.
“A lot of them end up wanting to stay in Billings,” she said.
The graduation ceremony will take place at Losekamp Hall. Afterward, the college will hold a reception for the graduates in Prescott Hall.