The five-year grant will benefit eligible PA students starting in fall 2024.

The state of Ohio has awarded Ohio Dominican University a grant for more than $1 million to support students and strengthen the state’s workforce development in the healthcare sector. Beginning in fall 2024, the five-year $1,009,999 Choose Ohio First (COF) grant will provide scholarship assistance to eligible students who are studying in ODU’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) Studies Program. The award has the potential of benefitting as many as 75 students over the next half decade.

Ohio Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner made the announcement on Nov. 13, 2023. ODU is one of 45 colleges and universities across the state that will collectively receive nearly $40 million over the next five years to support students studying in a field related to STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine).

The grant will allow ODU to take steps to boost the economic mobility of underrepresented students in its PA program as well as the healthcare workforce at large by providing tuition scholarships, work-based experiences, and academic and career support to students seeking a PA graduate degree. Currently, approximately 20% of students in the program’s 2025 graduating class represent an underserved population. This includes individuals who self-identify as being from a medically underserved area; are first-generation college students; come from a home where English is not the primary spoken language; identify as being economically disadvantaged; or are of African American or Hispanic ethnicity. Approximately 8% of the class identifies as representing more than one of those categories. This newly awarded Choose Ohio First Grant will allow ODU to provide direct scholarship assistance to eligible students for the first time in the PA program’s history.

Established in 2012, ODU’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies was the first graduate program of its kinds in the region. This upcoming December, ODU will graduate its tenth cohort of PA students, bringing the total number of graduates to nearly 500. The program has a graduation rate of 97%, and 100% of graduates have passed the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).

“Ohio Dominican University has played a vital role in preparing STEM students for successful careers in Ohio, and I am pleased to have Ohio Dominican University among this latest group of Choose Ohio First awardees,” Gardner said.

ODU President Connie Gallaher says this award, when combined with a previously announced $588,000 Choose Ohio First Grant award benefitting undergraduate students, means students now have a unique opportunity to benefit from COF funds throughout their undergraduate and graduate studies at ODU.

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to Chancellor Gardner and the state of Ohio for again selecting Ohio Dominican University to receive these important life-changing funds that will equip ODU PA students with the financial resources they need to complete their education and go on to play a critical role in the lives of patients,” Gallaher said. “As the Central Ohio region continues to grow rapidly in population and the need for healthcare providers increases, this grant will allow us to take meaningful steps toward filling that important need by preparing qualified and compassionate PAs, and doing so in a way that supports and reflects the wonderfully diverse community in which we serve.” 

“I cannot emphasize enough the impact this grant will have in terms of improving overall access to healthcare for Ohioans and helping to enhance diversity among providers throughout the Central Ohio region,” said ODU PA Program Director Cameron Powell. “On the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare sector is experiencing significant strain. By connecting talented students with this valuable tuition assistance, we can help to ensure we provide students from all backgrounds with the necessary training and education so they can provide those who live and work in our communities with the care they deserve.”

First-year students are eligible to apply for the COF scholarship and will have an opportunity to do so as they complete the admission requirements into ODU’s PA program.

About the Choose Ohio First Program
The Choose Ohio First scholarship program began in 2008 as a way to increase the number of Ohio students enrolling in and successfully completing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs at Ohio’s public and independent colleges and universities. The Ohio Department of Higher Education provides funding to Ohio’s colleges and universities to support students in innovative academic programs. Participating universities and colleges award scholarships to students desiring a certificate, associate degree, baccalaureate degree, or graduate degree in eligible STEM and STEM education fields.

About the Ohio Department of Higher Education
The Ohio Department of Higher Education is a Cabinet-level agency for the Governor of the State of Ohio that oversees higher education for the state. The agency’s main responsibilities include authorizing and approving new degree programs, managing state-funded financial aid programs and developing and advocating policies to maximize higher education’s contributions to the state and its citizens.