College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Master of Physician Assistant Studies
The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences offers a master of physician assistant studies (MPAS) degree for those completing the requirements of the physician assistant (PA) program. Physician assistants are well- recognized and highly sought-after members of the health care team. Working within a health care team, PAs provide diagnostic and therapeutic patient care in virtually all specialties and settings. They take patient histories, perform physical examinations, order laboratory and diagnostic studies, develop patient treatment plans, participate in surgery, and provide patient education. In all 50 states, PAs have the authority to write prescriptions.
PAs practice in all specialty fields; 24 percent of all PAs provide primary care services, especially in family and general internal medicine. A significant majority of PAs will work in specialty care. Their job descriptions are as diverse as physicians, and also may include nonclinical roles such as medical education, health administration, and research. While these positions do not necessarily involve patient care, they depend on a strong clinical knowledge base.
The MPAS curriculum is 24 consecutive months designed to provide an understanding of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes used as a physician assistant. The first 12 months of the MPAS program are devoted to didactic studies in the basic medical, clinical, and behavioral sciences, and the remaining 12 months are largely focused on the clinical experiences in primary care, medical, and surgical specialties.
The didactic curriculum is integrated to introduce the student to medical sciences as they relate to specific organ systems and clinical problems. Learning strategies include the traditional lecture format and basic science laboratory, hybrid, small-group tutorials, and patient case discussions. Regular patient contact is an important part of the first-year curriculum. Students begin to see patients during the first semester of their didactic year. Standardized patient evaluations, through simulation and actors, are also a part of the didactic curriculum. As part of the clinical curriculum, students participate in rotations and didactic coursework. Students are required to take core rotations in emergency medicine, family medicine, general surgery, internal medicine, mental health, pediatrics, and women’s health. Students also choose an elective rotation. In the clinical year, students also participate in Core Topics, Issues of Professional Practice, and the Summative Practicum.