Physician Assistant Studies - MPAS

Program Code: MPAS
Masters of Physician Assistant Studies

Availability: campus

Introduction
The graduate program in Physician Assistant Studies (PA) is a 24-month program that offers 12 months of didactic and 12 months of clinical training with didactic components. The program has been developed for students who have a bachelor’s degree and meet prerequisites including coursework and healthcare experience. Mercyhurst prepares PA graduates with the highest quality academic and clinical training to be leaders in the profession, proficient in meeting the challenges of healthcare, while providing compassionate, quality care to the diverse communities in which they serve. Physician assistants provide high quality, cost-effective healthcare as productive members of the health care team and employment opportunities for PAs are predicted to be excellent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates an increase of 37 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is much higher than the average for most professions.

Mission Statement
The mission of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies (DPAS) is to prepare students with the highest quality academic and clinical training. The program will prepare physician assistants to be leaders in the profession, proficient in meeting the challenges of health care, while providing compassionate, quality care to the diverse communities in which they serve.

The department’s mission, vision and core goals were developed to align with the university’s mission, vision and core values. Emphasis has been placed on the Mercy tradition and healthcare core values to stay true to the basic principles set forth by our founders.

Accreditation
The curriculum has been developed to meet Standards set forth by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA).

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Mercyhurst University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Mercyhurst University. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.

Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be June 2029. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy. The program's accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at https://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation-history-mercyhurst-university/.

Admission Requirements
The Mercyhurst University Physician Assistant Program participates with the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Individuals whose applications are viewed positively will be invited for an interview. Candidates will be selected for entry into the program based upon the completion of prerequisites, the interview process and space availability. Candidates with higher overall GPAs, prerequisite GPAs, GREs and direct patient healthcare experience are more competitive for earning admission. Preference will be given to equally qualified Mercyhurst graduates.

  • Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. or a provincially accredited Canadian college or university or evidence of expected completion of a bachelor’s degree at the time of application. The undergraduate degree must be completed before matriculation.
  • Applicants must have an overall GPA of 3.2 or higher (on a 4.0 scale).
  • Applicants must have a GPA of 3.2 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) in prerequisite courses.
  • Applicants must have 200 hours of health care experience (paid or volunteer).
  • GRE verbal and quantitative reasoning scores will be used in the evaluation of the applicant. GREs must be completed within the five years prior to application.
  • Applicants are required to supply three letters of recommendation.
  • Applicants must submit a succinct personal statement that discusses professional goals in reference to the physician assistant profession.
  • International or non-native speaking students must submit official, notarized scores from the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam and must meet the minimum score requirement of 550 for the paper based test and 79-80 for the internet-based test.
  • A completed Student Health Record, which includes the Pre-Admission Immunization Record and the Cohen Health Center Student Health Record, is required for matriculating into the program, participating in patient care at clinical sites and progressing through the program. Students are required to provide current immunization and serologic immunity verification in accordance with CDC guidelines and must have proof of health insurance throughout the program of study.
  • Criminal background checks, including finger printing, child abuse clearance and drug screening are required for matriculating into the program, participating in patient care at clinical sites and progressing through the program. Students are financially responsible for this process which may need to be repeated annually or more frequently as required by clinical sites. Adverse results at any time can prevent a student from matriculating into the program, being promoted within the program, placed at clinical training sites or recommended for graduation. Adverse results, including felony and misdemeanor convictions, can limit the ability for clinical training experiences, national certification or state licensure. The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, www.NCCPA. net, is a good resource for guidance for concerns with background findings.

Physician Assistant Prerequisite Courses

  • Applicants must complete all prerequisite courses listed below with a grade of “C” or better prior to matriculation. Courses, other than Medical Terminology, taken as pass/fail or for noncredit will not be accepted. One credit of Medical Terminology is preferred; a certificate may be accepted due to limited course offerings.
  • A minimum of 12 credits, including physiology and microbiology, must be completed within the five years prior to matriculation.
  • The Anatomy and Physiology requirements may be met by taking either one semester of Anatomy and one semester of Physiology, or two semesters of Anatomy and Physiology combined.
  • All PA program coursework must be taken in sequence. Transfer/AP/life experience credit are not offered.
Total Credits Course Requirement
8 Biology with labs
12 Chemistry with labs (General and Organic)
3 Biochemistry
4 Anatomy with lab
3 Physiology
4 Microbiology with lab
3 Genetics
3 Statistics
3 Psychology
1 Medical Terminology

Physician Assistant Curriculum
The graduate program in PA Studies operates on a semester calendar. Summer, fall and spring semester are completed in a predetermined sequence. All PA program coursework must be taken in sequence. Advanced placement, transfer or life experience credit are not offered.

Program Student Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of the Mercyhurst Department of Physician Assistant Studies, the graduate will possess knowledge, skills and abilities in the following competencies:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of established and evolving biomedical, clinical and social-behavioral sciences and application to patient care across the lifespan for medical conditions, including preventative, emergent, acute and chronic.
  • Elicit a medical history that is relevant and accurate of patient information across the lifespan and adjusts to the health care setting.
  • Perform a physical examination that adjusts accordingly to the reason for the visit, patient demographics and condition.
  • Analyze patient data to develop a differential diagnosis (clinical reasoning/problem solving) that applies the principles of epidemiology across the lifespan and evidence-based medicine for medical conditions, including preventative, emergent, acute and chronic.
  • Develop a diagnostic management plan (clinical reasoning/problem solving) for common medical conditions, including preventative, emergent, acute and chronic, across the lifespan taking into consideration cost, sensitivity/specificity, invasiveness and appropriate sequencing.
  • Develop a therapeutic management plan (clinical reasoning/problem solving) for medical conditions, including preventative, emergent, acute and chronic, across the lifespan that applies principals of pharmacotherapeutics and non-pharmacotherapeutics while taking into consideration the patient’s condition, psychosocial context and socioeconomic factors. Make certain the plan is practical for implementation and ensures follow up care.
  • Provide accurate patient education (interpersonal skills) regarding medical conditions, including preventative, emergent, acute and chronic, to patients across the lifespan inclusive of health promotion and disease prevention in oral and written forms taking into consideration literacy, diversity, inclusiveness of family/caregivers and utilization of other healthcare professionals and community resources/services.
  • Communicate clearly and effectively (interpersonal skills) in oral and written forms with patients across the lifespan, their family/caregivers and members of the healthcare team to provide competent comprehensive patient-centered care for medical conditions, including preventative, emergent, acute and chronic.
  • Perform medical and surgical procedures (clinical and technical skills) common across the lifespan in primary care for preventative, emergent, acute and chronic conditions to include: venipuncture, intravenous access, injections, EKG, urinalysis, strep screen, stool occult blood, wound management, casting, splinting, urinary catheterization, and CPR.
  • Demonstrate professionalism with high ethical standards sensitive to patients across the lifespan, their family/caregiver and members of the health care team. Continually promote the Mercy values of compassion, justice, dignity, excellence, hospitality and stewardship in practice and service to the community.
  • Maintain practice-based and lifelong learning skills with continued critical analysis of medical literature to evaluate, manage and improve patient-centered care.
  • Demonstrate responsiveness to systems-based practice by practicing cost effective care and resource allocation that does not compromise the quality of care.
Program Requirements:

To obtain the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree students must successfully complete all required didactic and clinical courses while maintaining a minimum 3.0 overall grade point average throughout the program of study. Students must also successfully complete all components of the master’s portfolio and the Summative Evaluation Experience for completion of the program.

Physician Assistant students are responsible for developing a master’s portfolio under the advisement of a faculty member. This portfolio includes written works in case presentations, service learning, professional growth experiences and a project in performance improvement. The performance improvement project includes active learning and the application of learning to improve the practice of medicine, a current standard in health care. This project will be done with guidance from the student’s advisor and in partnership with a preceptor/ office practice. The project will include comparison of some aspect of practice to national benchmarks, performance guidelines or other established evidence-based metric or standard. Based on the comparison, the student will develop a plan for improvement in that area.

The Summative Evaluation Experience will take place on campus the last two weeks of the second year spring semester prior to graduation to further prepare the student for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) and entering the workforce.

A total of 97 credits are required to complete the Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program. Mercyhurst students who are successful in the completion of all the requirements of the program of study will earn a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree and he/she will be eligible to sit for the PANCE exam. This examination must be passed in order to practice in all states.

Didactic Year - First Year
Students must begin the program during the summer semester. The curriculum sequencing commences with basic science review, introductory course work and the beginning of clinical skills education. The didactic year fall and spring semesters present the health care sciences in a medical model. Classes and labs typically meet during the day, with some evening classes. During the didactic year students also have intermittent exposure to patient experiences in health care settings in the community

Summer

TOTAL CREDITS - 18

Fall

TOTAL CREDITS - 18

Spring

TOTAL CREDITS - 17

Clinical Year - Second Year
The 2-week Thesis Guidance course takes place on campus prior to the start of rotations. The clinical year consists of healthcare experiences in internal medicine, family practice, pediatrics, women’s health, surgery, emergency medicine, mental health and two elective rotations. Rotations will be five weeks in length, which includes a 4-week elective rotation combined with a 1-week mental health rotation. Rotation I-IX assignments will vary among all the various rotational types of experiences. Not all students will be assigned internal medicine on rotation I and may be assigned to any of the required rotations or electives.
Recall Days occur the last two days of each rotation, at which time students will be required to be on campus for debriefing of the experience, clinical and written testing, case presentations and didactic instruction in current medical topics.

Summer

TOTAL CREDITS - 12

Fall

TOTAL CREDITS - 15

Spring

TOTAL CREDITS - 17

PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

To obtain the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree students must successfully complete all required didactic and clinical courses while maintaining a minimum 3.0 overall grade point average throughout the program of study. Students must also successfully complete all components of the master’s portfolio and the Summative Evaluation Experience for completion of the program.

Physician Assistant students are responsible for developing a master’s portfolio under the advisement of a faculty member. This portfolio includes written works in case presentations, service learning, professional growth experiences and a project in performance improvement. The performance improvement project includes active learning and the application of learning to improve the practice of medicine, a current standard in health care. This project will be done with guidance from the student’s advisor and in partnership with a preceptor/ office practice. The project will include comparison of some aspect of practice to national benchmarks, performance guidelines or other established evidence-based metric or standard. Based on the comparison, the student will develop a plan for improvement in that area.

The Summative Evaluation Experience will take place on campus the last two weeks of the second year spring semester prior to graduation to further prepare the student for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) and entering the workforce.

A total of 97 credits are required to complete the Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program. Mercyhurst students who are successful in the completion of all the requirements of the program of study will earn a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree and he/she will be eligible to sit for the PANCE exam. This examination must be passed in order to practice in all states.