James A. Van Rhee to Head Physician Assistant Studies

December 21, 2005

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – James A. Van Rhee, M.P.A.S., PA-C, will become associate professor and chairman of a new Department of Physician Assistant Studies at Wake Forest University School of Medicine on May 1, 2006, said William B. Applegate, M.D., M.P.H., dean of the medical school and senior vice president of Wake Forest University Health Sciences.

In that position, Van Rhee will head the Physician Assistant Program of the medical school.

Van Rhee is currently chairman and associate professor of the Physician Assistant Department at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. He is also in practice as a physician assistant at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo.

“James Van Rhee’s extensive background in physician assistant education, research, administration, and patient care will be excellent preparation for his new responsibilities as chairman of our Department of Physician Assistant Studies,” Applegate said.

“Mr. Van Rhee was among several outstanding candidates who were interviewed for the position, and we are privileged that he will be joining our faculty in this capacity.”

The Physician Assistant Program at Wake Forest was founded in 1968 and is among the oldest such programs in the country, but it has not been designated as a medical school department until now. The program is ranked 13th in the country in the 2006 listing of America’s Best Graduate Schools in U.S. News & World Report.

Van Rhee is currently pursuing a doctorate in education leadership from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. He holds a master’s degree in physician assistant studies (M.P.A.S.) from Chicago Medical School and a bachelor of science degree in medicine from the University of Iowa, where he completed his physician assistant training. He also earned a bachelor of science degree in medical technology from Grand Valley State College in Allendale, Mich.

Before joining the medical staff at Borgess Medical Center, Van Rhee was manager of physician assistant services at Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies, and was a member of the physician assistant staff at Spectrum Health/Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.

He is currently a site visitor for the Accreditation Review Commission for Physician Assistant Education and a fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. The Wake Forest P.A. Program was recently reaccredited by the commission.

Van Rhee is principal investigator on a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) training grant on development and evaluation of a parallel curriculum, in which he is comparing problem-based with lecture-based physician assistant education. The grant began in 1999, and was renewed in 2002 for four years.

Burton V. Reifler, M.D., professor and former chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, has been serving as interim director of the Physician Assistant Program.


Media Contacts: Robert Conn, rconn@wfubmc.edu, Shannon Koontz, shkoontz@wfubmc.edu, or Karen Richardson, krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu, at (336) 716-4587.

Photograph is available.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. U.S. News & World Report ranks Wake Forest University School of Medicine 30th in primary care, 41st in research and 14th in geriatrics training and 13th in training of physician assistants among the nation's medical schools. It ranks 32nd in research funding by the National Institutes of Health. Almost 150 members of the medical school faculty are listed in Best Doctors in America.

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