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Stephens launches new physician assistant, screenwriting programs

October 7, 2014

In keeping with its commitment to excellence in the creative arts and health sciences, Stephens College announces the launch of two new graduate degree programs: a Master of Physician Assistant degree to be offered in collaboration with local and regional healthcare facilities, and a new Master of Fine Arts in Television and Screenwriting, a low-residency program with 10 days of intensive on-site classes each semester at the Jim Henson Studios in Los Angeles.
“We have been working for more than a year with outstanding professionals in both health sciences and television and screenwriting to ensure these programs are cutting-edge and highly attuned to current market demands,” Stephens President Dianne Lynch said. “We’re committed to investing in facilities, partnerships and faculty to ensure that both programs are the best in their markets right from the start.”
Physician Assistant Program
The Master in Physician Assistant program will be designed to prepare physician assistants to work in primary care settings, to embrace the rapidly changing healthcare environment and to become adept at the use of interactive technologies to provide high quality healthcare in rural communities.
“Physician assistants are in high demand,” said Dr. Richard Oliver, former dean of the School of Health Professions at the University of Missouri, who is serving as a consultant in the sciences and for the program. “Stephens’ location in a city with a strong healthcare infrastructure, the college’s low faculty-to-student ratio and its historic commitment to the sciences make Stephens an ideal campus for this program.”
Stephens is partnering with local and regional healthcare facilities to provide clinical rotations. Confirmed to date are Boone Hospital Center, the University of Missouri Health System and Capitol Regional Medical Center.
“We look forward to working with our prestigious neighbor as they launch this program,”  said Jim Sinek, president of Boone Hospital Center. “Our hospital and medical staff have a history of clinical success at Boone Hospital, and we're happy to share our knowledge and expertise with students pursuing careers as physician assistants at Stephens.” 
“We’re thrilled to work with Stephens to provide facilities for clinical rotations,” said Stevan Whitt, chief medical officer for the University of Missouri Health System. “We need more highly qualified health professionals in Missouri and across the country, and we’re happy to support programs in our own community that will serve that need.”
Sampson Hall, located on Broadway at the western edge of the Stephens campus, will be the site of the college’s new Center for Health Sciences, which will house the PA program, among others. Extensive renovation will begin immediately to ensure the new facilities are completed in time for the program’s first class in 2016.
Like all of the College’s graduate programs, the PA program will be co-educational.
Low-Residency M.F.A. in TV and Screenwriting
While all other low-residency M.F.A. programs in the country require students to study multiple narrative formats, the Stephens College M.F.A. in writing will focus exclusively on writing for television and film.  Online courses and mentoring will be supplemented by 10 days each semester in Los Angeles, where students will engage in workshops with working television and screenwriters, visit studios, connect with agents and managers, and learn the business of Hollywood from executives and producers.
It’s a first-of-its-kind program aimed to boost the number of women working in the film industry.
“While the program is open to men, the lens is focused on women,” said Ken LaZebnik, an accomplished scriptwriter and founding director of the program. “We want to give women writers the inspiration and skills they need to successfully compete for screenwriting jobs in film, television and online media.”
LaZebnik has strong ties to Stephens. He grew up in Columbia, where his father, Jack, taught English and creative writing at the College.  In 2005, LaZebnik returned to Stephens for a brief period to serve as the dean of the School of Performing Arts. In L.A., he’s written for multiple television programs, including “When Calls the Heart,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Army Wives,” and “Star Trek: Enterprise.” LaZebnik comes from a family of screenwriters; his brother Rob is co-producer of "The Simpsons," and his brother Philip is best known for screenplays "Mulan" and "Pocahontas." 
The new degree programs are being launched on the heels of a historic $15 million gift to the college and the unveiling of a new brand this year.  Lynch says they won’t be the last of the exciting announcements from Stephens in the months ahead.

“It’s a great time to be a Stephens Woman,” Lynch said. “We are proof positive that there are women’s colleges in this country that are thriving.”

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