UTRGV professor named Outstanding Physician Assistant Educator of the Year

BY J. Edward Moreno

Frank Ambriz, clinical associate professor in the UTRGV Department of Physician Assistant Studies and program director of the Master in Physician Assistant Studies Bridge Program (MPAS), has been named the 2018 Outstanding Physician Assistant Educator of the Year by the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants (TAPA).

The award “honors an individual who has demonstrated exemplary service to PA students and has furthered the leadership, educational, or professional development of PA students,” as stated on their website.

The Elsa native earned his bachelor’s degree in biology in 1977 at legacy institution Pan American University. He went on to earn a B.S. in physician assistant studies from the UT Medical Branch at Galveston, and spent 17 years in the profession there before joining UT Pan American as program director of the PA program.

This is the second time Ambriz has earned the award; the first was in 2005.

More than anything, Ambriz said, the award is a testament to the program’s success.

“One of the things that contributed to it is the success we’ve had with our students,” he said. “We’ve transformed our curriculum to an active-learning strategy, and that has increased our national board pass rate from 74 percent to 98 percent.”

In the past decade, the UTRGV Department of Physician Assistant Studies has awarded $6 million in scholarships, Ambriz said, and opportunities like those – which make education more accessible and promote overall student success – lead to recognitions from organizations like TAPA.

“We keep on moving forward,” he said. “It’s all toward the success of our students and the success of our profession.”