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Top 10 Best Physician Assistant (PA) Schools.

Filed in Education by on September 5, 2019

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Top 10 Best Physician Assistant (PA) Schools.

Physician Assistant Schools – Physician assistants have most responsibilities as doctors, although they work under a physician’s or surgeon’s supervision.

A Physician assistant can diagnose a patient and also prescribe treatment. Students can find physician assistant programs in lots of colleges and universities around the country, but the best programs are often available at nationally recognized schools.

Degree programs for physician assistants are normally offered at the master’s degree level and consist of supervised clinical training, laboratory work and also classroom instruction.

In this article, my main focus is on the best health schools for physician assistant programs.

1. Duke University

The Physician Assistant (PA) profession originated at Duke, located in Durham, North Carolina, in the mid-1960s.

Dr. Eugene A. Stead Jr., then Chairman of the Department of Medicine, believed that mid-level practitioners could increase consumer access to health services by extending the time and skills of the physician.

To meet the growing need for PAs, Duke University PA Program is a participant in CASPA (Centralized Application Service for PAs).

To apply to their program, applicants must complete a CASPA application and a Duke supplemental application.

The PA program is a master’s degree program; a baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by the Commission on Colleges of a Regional Accrediting Organization is required.

Their PA program requires eight prerequisite courses-all of which must be completed with grades of “C” or better.

The first 12 months of the program are devoted to preclinical studies, and the remaining 12 months to clinical experiences in primary care and the medical and surgical specialties.

During the second year of the PA Program, students complete 10 rotations. These clinical experiences are composed of eight required and two elective rotations, and a final senior seminar course.

At least one of these rotations is required to take place in a medically underserved area. Their accredited program boasts that 95 % of graduates will be employed within six months of graduation.

Tuition: $38,857 per year


2. University of Iowa

University of Iowa

Since the year 1974, The University of Iowa PA graduates has enjoyed outstanding achievement on the National Certifying Examination for Physician Assistants (PANCE), consistently performing among the top 5-10% of all programs in the country each year.

Throughout the University of Iowa’s Physician Assistant Program history, students have been heavily integrated into the Carver College of Medicine’s medical education, taking courses and being graded on the same scale as second-year medical students.

Over the past seven years, the PA Program has received on average 18 applicants for every seat available. Each year, approximately 110 applicants were interviewed for the 25 seats available.

After completion of the 28-month program, the PA will be able to perform tasks of health care management presently performed by the primary care physician, thereby allowing the physician greater freedom and time for more complicated medical problems.

Since the year 1974, the graduates of The University of Iowa have enjoyed a first-time pass rate of greater than 99.99% compared to the national average of 85% during this same time period.

No graduates have failed the exam since the year 1996. For the most recent performance reports of PA graduates, the University of Iowa PA Class of 2014 achieved a 100% pass rate compared to the national pass rate of 95%.

Tuition: $13,862 (Iowa residents); $29,146 (non-residents)


3. Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia

Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia

Emory was named one of the best colleges in the U.S. in the year 2017 by The Princeton Review.

In addition to a program leading to a Master of Science- Physician Assistant, Emory is one of the few schools that also offer a dual degree program that culminates in a Master of Science – Physician Assistant and Master of Public Health.

It is offered through a cooperative agreement between the Emory University School of Medicine and the Rollins School of Public Health.

Tuition: $41,400 per year


4. George Washington University

George Washington University

George Washington University offers 2 Physician Assistant Degree programs. It’s a large private university in a large city.

In the year 2015, 65 students graduated in the study area of Physician Assistant with students earning 65 Master’s degrees.

Housed within the Sciences and tied closely with the Milken Institute School of Public Health, the Department of Physician Assistant Studies builds strong primary care and public health foundations among its students.

They offer two graduate level programs: the traditional 2-year program leading to a Master of Science in Health Sciences degree (MSHS) and the 3-year joint program leading to both an MSHS and a Master of Public Health degree (MPH).

Applicants to the joint PA/MPH program must meet admission requirements for both the MSHS and MPH programs.

During the clinical phase of the PA’s education, there are seven core rotations and one elective. The core rotations include inpatient medicine, primary care, surgery, pediatrics, emergency medicine, women’s health, and behavioral medicine.

Tuition: $41,820 (3 terms 1st yr.); $27,880 (2 terms 2nd yr.)


5. Oregon Health and Science University

Oregon Health and Science University

The university campus is located in beautiful Portland, Oregon. As Oregon’s only public academic health center, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) are devoted to health sciences education, patient care, research and outreach services.

Oregon Health and Science University educational programs are included in the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, and Nursing.

The PA Program was established in the year 1995 with the mission of preparing physician assistants to provide primary care services to medically underserved communities.

The Program graduated its first class in September 1997.  In the spring of 2001, the PA Program became a free-standing Division within the School of Medicine.

The OHSU PA Program is a 26-month, full-time course of study leading to a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree.

A class of 42 students is accepted each year with classes starting in June. The didactic phase of the Program is 12 months; the clinical phase lasts 14 months.

The curriculum has been designed with an emphasis on primary care. To achieve this goal, the program uses the Competencies for the PA Profession, the content blueprint for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).

To be considered for admission to the OHSU PA Program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, specific prerequisites, general test for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), and health care experience.

A minimum of 2,000 hours (accumulated as of the September 1 deadline) of health care experience in a position of responsibility is expected of all applicants.

This master’s level degree curriculum is comprised of the Academic Year, Clinical Year, Community Outreach Project, and Rural Track (elective).
Tuition: $8,883 per Qtr. $79,947 (total program 9 Qtrs.)


6. Quinnipiac University

Quinnipiac University

Quinnipiac University began as a small college in New Haven, Connecticut, in the year 1929. In the early 1960s, Quinnipiac purchased land across from Sleeping Giant State Park, which is now the Mount Carmel Campus.

Quinnipiac transitioned from a college to a university in the year 2000, and since then has grown into a national university with eight schools and colleges and two additional campuses.

The Center for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, located on their North Haven, Connecticut, campus, is home to the School of Health Sciences, Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine, School of Law, School of Nursing and the School of Education.

Quinnipiac’s physician assistant program leads to a Master of Health Science (MHS) degree and provides the clinical and academic preparation needed for the diverse responsibilities undertaken by physician assistants.

Quinnipiac’s 27-month program provides intensive course work in biology and the applied sciences and involves students in an extensive network of fieldwork experiences including in hospitals, medical centers, extended-care facilities, and nursing homes.

The average applicant enters the program with a 3.4 cumulative and science GPA, and over two years of strong health care experience.

The Physician Assistant Certificate/Master of Health Science degree signifies that the holder is prepared for entry into the practice of medicine.

It follows that the graduate must have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care.

All students entering the Physician Assistant Program must be in good health and free of communicable disease. Prior to entering the program, the student must show proof of meeting the school’s health requirements.

Tuition: $24,840 (spring/summer period); $31,280 (summer/fall); $16,560 (fall/spring)


7. University of Colorado

University of Colorado

The Physician Assistant program at the University of Colorado (CU) School of Medicine, in Aurora, is a graduate level program awarding a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) upon completion.

The 36-month, the full-time curriculum provides comprehensive physician assistant education in primary care across the lifespan, with expanded training in pediatrics and care of the medically underserved.

One class of 44 students are enrolled in the summer semester each year through a competitive admissions process.

The Physician Assistant (PA) Program offers students the opportunity to participate in tracks to help personalize and extend learning beyond the standard curriculum.

These tracks include exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary education:

  • Rural Track: Designed to prepare students who wish to practice medicine in rural areas, especially in Colorado and Wyoming.
  • Global Track: An official interdisciplinary track in the School of Medicine that is committed to equipping PA and MD students with public health skills
  • Urban/Underserved Track: Is committed to serving the uninsured and those with limited access to health care in urban areas.
  • Pediatric Critical and Acute Care- critical care physicians and physician assistants at Children’s Hospital Colorado directly precept students over three years, teaching them skills in acute pediatric care.
  • LEADS (Leadership, Education, Advocacy, Development, and Scholarship)- provide future healthcare professionals with the vision and skills to be leaders and advocates for patients and their needs

Applicants with GPAs of less than 2.8 for either the cumulative or science GPA will not be considered. A Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution is also required to be completed prior to matriculation to the program.

Tuition: $47,838 (3 yr. program for Colorado residents); $103,582 (3 yr. non-residents)


8. University of Texas-Southwestern

 University of Texas-Southwester

Established in the year 1972, the Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program, at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, is a full-time, post-baccalaureate program that begins once a year in May and ends 30 months later in November.

The curriculum is a powerful blend of academic learning and hands-on clinical training. Students begin with four semesters of lecture and bedside demonstration in medical and behavioral sciences.

This foundational coursework is followed by four semesters of clinical rotations in a wide range of disciplines and settings.

The hub of your training is Parkland Memorial Hospital, a high-energy, 990-bed county facility that admits nearly 41,000 patients a year and delivers more babies than any other hospital in the nation.

Parkland has earned a place on U.S. News and World Report’s list of America’s Best Hospitals for more than a decade.

In the first semester, students concentrate on basic sciences and professional practice issues. In the fall semester, the emphasis shifts to basic patient evaluation skills balanced with disease process identification, pharmacology, and pathology.

In the following spring and summer semesters, students continue these studies and add clinical prevention, population health, evidence-based medicine, and psychiatry.

After successfully completing your course work, students participate in 59 weeks of clinical rotations that will expose them to the entire range of medical practice.

Graduates will be qualified to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE)-UT South western’s most recent first-time five-year PANCE pass rate is 100 percent.

Tuition: $33,682 (total 30 month program Texas residents); $74,227 (total non-residents): includes fees and books


9. Baylor University

Baylor University

The impetus for the establishment of a Physician Assistant Program at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas, arose from several sources.

The College’s new Ten-Point Expansion Plan for the ’70s called for the establishment of a Center for Allied Health Manpower Development that would assist in the preparation of individuals to help physicians address the unmet need for medical care in Texas.

The PA Certificate Program began in the fall of the year 1971 and it received initial accreditation from the Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation in the year 1973.

In the year 1988, faculty within the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Community Medicine proposed that a Master of Science degree curriculum for PA education be established within the Graduate School of the College.

Baylor College of Medicine programs is consistently ranked among the top in the nation.

Located in the largest medical center in the world, Baylor College of Medicine is one of the nation’s leading health science centers.

The College of Medicine was the first institution in Texas and the fourth in the nation to grant a Master of Science degree upon completion of a PA program.

The 30-month Master of Science Physician Assistant Program offered by Baylor College of Medicine consists of a 13-month didactic phase and a 17-month experiential learning phase inclusive of a Master’s Paper research project.

The program offers a didactic curriculum comprised of basic science, behavioral and pre-clerkship sciences of medicine along with clinical and critical thinking and problem-solving skills that provide the foundation required for entry to the clinical year of the program.

Tuition: $18,536 (1st & 2nd yr.); $9,268 (3rd yr.)


10. University of Washington

University of Washington

MEDEX Northwest, founded in the year 1967, offers the Physician Assistant Program at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine, located in Seattle; it offers a Master or Bachelor of Clinical Health Services degree (MCHS or BCHS).

All students who complete the program successfully also earn a Certificate of Completion, which qualifies them to take the national certification examination.

All masters-level students participate in the core MEDEX PA curriculum, which focuses on primary care and improving healthcare access for the medically underserved.

Specific graduate-level assignments and activities are woven throughout the regular PA curriculum.

Students in both Seattle and Spokane who have selected the master’s option will participate in additional masters-only coursework and complete a capstone project.

MEDEX Northwest has taken a competency-based approach to their PA curriculum design since it opened in the year 1969.

The two primary components of the curriculum are the classroom (known as didactic) phase and the clinical phase.

Each section spans approximately one year, and masters-level students have an additional quarter of material preparing them for advanced clinical and leadership roles. The didactic year begins with basic science review, reinforcing concepts about the fundamental building blocks that underlie the practice of medicine.

The curriculum throughout the year integrates material across courses using an organ system approach.

The centerpiece of the clinical phase of training is the four-month primary care preceptorship.  This is most often completed in a family practice setting, or students may work with general internal medicine physicians and PAs.

There are also six shorter one-month rotations, called clerkships, which are intended to expose future primary care clinicians to specialty practice.

Tuition: $71,710 (MCHS total: 9 qtrs.); $59,509 (total BCHS)

These are the best health schools for physician assistant programs. I hope this helps.

CSN Team

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