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Montefiore Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Inaugural Surgical Physician Assistants Residency Program

Alumna of 1971 Founding Residency Program Attends Ceremony to Congratulate Newest Graduates

Bronx, New York (November 1, 2011) - Montefiore Medical Center celebrated the 40th anniversary of the nation's very first Surgical Physician Assistant (PA) residency program, at a ceremony held in the Cherkasky Auditorium, October 31, 2011. PAs are highly trained health care providers working under the guidance of a physician. While PAs traditionally practiced general medicine, Montefiore was the first institution in this country to conceptualize and implement the Surgical PA residency program, inspired by the military model where wounded soldiers during the stresses of wartime, were treated by Medics and Corpsmen under the guidance of their physician colleagues.

In 1971, Montefiore began accepting PAs for a residency program in surgery after completion of their undergraduate studies. These PAs could later become part of the surgical staff. At this year's ceremony, 10 PAs of the Class of 2011 graduated and members of the 2012 Class were announced. To date, Montefiore has trained over 375 surgical PAs practicing around the country.

"Forty years ago, Montefiore welcomed the first class of Surgical Physician Assistants in the nation," said Steven M. Safyer, M.D., President and CEO Montefiore Medical Center. "Physician Assistants are integral members of our healthcare team. Our Surgical PA residency program reflects our investment in the advancement of PAs and in promoting the highest standards of clinical expertise so vital to our exceptional surgical care."

"Surgical residency changes you," said Robert Sammartano, RPA-C, Program Director PA Residency in Surgery, Senior Surgical PA Pediatric Surgery and President of the American Association of Surgical Physician Assistants. "It makes you courageous, drives you to be a leader. Everyone in the industry knows that Montefiore set the standard in the early '70s and we continue with a reputation of excellence and quite simply, being the best."

One of the very first PAs to participate in the Montefiore program, Clara E. Vanderbilt, was in attendance at yesterday's 40th anniversary ceremony. Clara was the director of the Physician Assistant Surgical Residency program at Montefiore Medical Center from 1978 to 2000, and the founding president of the New York State Society of Physician Assistants.

"Being a Surgical PA was a challenging role and one I took great pride in," said Ms. Vanderbilt, who received the "PA of the Century" award from Montefiore in 2000. "Four decades ago Montefiore established a tradition that became the inspiration for over 40 residencies in surgery and other medical specialties around the country. I am honored and proud to have been one of the founding students."

"Many of the PAs who graduate from our program have gone on to become leaders in their field," added Arnold Berlin, M.D., Medical Director, PA Residency in Surgery, Associate Professor of Surgery. "We congratulate this year's graduates and wish the members of the 2012 Surgical PA class success."