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Agnes Scott College Receives $1M in Federal Funding to Train Physician Assistants and Mental Health Counselors

Decatur, Ga. – Agnes Scott College has been awarded $1 million to train physician assistants and clinical mental health counselors in maternal and pediatric care as a part of the 2024 omnibus appropriations bill signed by President Biden on March 23. 

The grant will support the equipment, curriculum development and technology needed for the college’s physician assistant and clinical mental health counseling graduate programs. This will position the college to prepare more than 160 master’s students annually to practice as licensed professional counselors and certified physician assistants by 2027.

“We are immensely grateful to Senators Ossoff and Warnock for their support of our work to educate healthcare professionals, especially those who can make a difference in the lives of women and children,” said Leocadia I. Zak, president of Agnes Scott College.

“This legislation makes strong investments that will lower childcare costs, support small businesses, strengthen rural health care and more,” said Senator Warnock, speaking about the appropriations act. “I’m proud it reflects my commitment to serving Georgians from Rome to Valdosta.” 

Georgia has the nation’s highest maternal death rate and is 16th in infant mortality.  In metro Atlanta, demand for physician assistants is expected to grow by 34 percent from 2023 to 2033, 26 percent higher than the national average. Demand for licensed professional counselors is also expected to increase significantly over the same period. 

Agnes Scott is driving solutions by developing mission-aligned, health-focused graduate programs to address community and workforce needs while providing pathways for meaningful careers in healthcare. Based on an analysis of workforce demand and feedback from local healthcare partners, Agnes Scott launched its clinical mental health counseling program in 2022 to address the state’s mental health crisis and will launch a physician assistant program in 2025 to meet the growing demand for physician assistants.

“Healthcare needs are growing dramatically in Georgia for providers specializing in maternal, neonatal and pediatric health,” said Kelly H. Ball, associate vice president and dean for graduate studies. “By building these master’s programs, Agnes Scott is committed to transforming healthcare and addressing the most urgent healthcare needs in Georgia.”

Visit to learn more about Agnes Scott College’s graduate studies and innovative health sciences programs.