Ralph Rice, DHSc, PA-C, has been appointed associate dean and director of the School of Physician Assistant Studies at UF’s College of Medicine. The appointment becomes effective Jan. 18.
“I am very pleased that Dr. Rice will be joining our team of dedicated, experienced faculty who are committed to educational excellence as we prepare men and women to be the best physicians and physician assistants they can be when they leave our college,” said Michael L. Good, dean of the UF College of Medicine and the Folke H. Peterson Dean’s Distinguished Professor.
Rice, who was recognized last year as a Distinguished Fellow by the American Academy of Physician Assistants, comes to UF from the department of physician assistant studies at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, where he is associate professor and associate program director. He was chosen to lead the UF physician assistant program following a national search to find a successor to Wayne Bottom, MPH, PA-C, who retired in June after guiding the program for 27 years.
Dr. Edward Block, chairman of the department of medicine who led the search committee, said the members were impressed with the credentials and experience that Rice brings to this position and are confident the School of Physician Assistant Studies at UF will continue to flourish and grow under his leadership.
There won’t be much of a learning curve for Rice, as his return to Gainesville will be somewhat of a homecoming. He earned his PA degree from UF in 1991 when the program was in the College of Health-Related Professions (now the College of Public Health and Health Professions), and he worked for the College of Medicine as a clinical assistant professor for the PA program and with Shands at UF in the heart and lung transplant unit.
Rice has led a varied and interesting career that began with service in the U.S. Navy and has included affiliations with several hospitals and trauma centers. He has served as the associate director for the Wake Forest PA program since 2006, and prior to that he was academic coordinator in the department of physician assistant studies at Missouri State University, where he also served as acting associate program director for one year.
One of his more fascinating responsibilities came in 1998 when he was lead clinician at a family practice clinic in Seward, Alaska, and acted as a liaison to the local Native Alaskan tribal council.
UF is the only public university in Florida to offer PA studies as a graduate program, and Rice says he is looking forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead of him to advance the School of Physician Assistant Studies even further.
Since its inception, the PA program has evolved and adapted to meet changing needs in the health-care delivery system. Last year it was elevated to “school” status, demonstrating the significant role of the program at the College of Medicine. It also reflects a tremendous need and demand for physician assistants in the health-care systems of our state and nation.