BS/MS Program

Nora Lowy, PhD, MPA, PA-C
Director of Physician Assistant Program

Mission Statement

The mission of the three-year BS/MS Physician Assistant Program is to prepare professional academic clinicians committed to providing quality health care.

Program Overview

The Wagner College Physician Assistant Program is accredited by the New York State Department of Education and the ARC-PA (Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant).

The Wagner College Physician Assistant Program is committed to preparing future professionals possessing sound academic knowledge and proficiency in clinical skills, requisite for providing and promoting quality healthcare to all individuals. The program is dedicated to the advancement of physician assistant education, promotes service to the community and, emphasizes the acquisition of the knowledge and skills required of the physician assistant (PA) functioning in a dynamic healthcare environment.

The three-year BS/MS Program in Physician Assistant Studies is a comprehensive program of didactic (academic), clinical and research (graduate) work that reflects upon the academic, clinical, and professional skills required of the physician assistant (PA). Students completing the prescribed three-year program in physician assistant studies will receive their BS and MS degrees and be eligible to take the national certifying examination leading to the title of Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C).

The Didactic Phase (Year I) includes classroom and laboratory instruction in courses such as the Medical Sciences (Clinical Anatomy, Medical Physiology, Medical Microbiology, Pathophysiology and Human Genetics); Clinical Preparatory Sciences (Patient Assessment, Radiology Interpretation, Primary Care & Pharmacotherapeutics, General Medicine, Emergency & Surgical Medicine and Maternal & Child Medicine); and PA Professional Practice. Clinical exposure begins in the didactic phase of the program by providing for experiences with interview skills and performance of physical examinations in a variety of clinical settings. That clinical exposure extends into the Clinical Phase (Year II) with the introduction of supervised clinical experiences and is further developed in the Graduate Phase (Year III) with elective clerkships.

The structured Clinical Phase takes place at affiliated clinical institutions - hospitals, outpatient clinics, private offices and other in-state and out-of-state sites. The Clinical Phase provides students with full-time, direct patient care in outpatient, inpatient, long-term care and emergency settings. The clinical experiences are intensive, supervised, hands-on learning experiences in various medical and surgical areas. These supervised clinical rotations are in disciplines such as emergency medicine, general and advanced practice medicine; general and advanced practice pediatrics; general and advanced practice surgery; long term care; primary care (from adolescent to community health), psychiatry/behavioral medicine, and women’s health. All clinical experiences emphasize the provision of diagnostic, therapeutic and health maintenance services.

Graduate level courses are introduced in the second year of the program and continued with in the third year or Graduate Phase to fulfill the requirements for the Master of Science degree. These courses provide the Physician Assistant with the knowledge and skills required for professional and career development. In keeping with the philosophy of PA education, the graduate phase consists of didactic coursework that is complemented with clinical experiences including the elective clerkships.

Clerkship experiences are available in elective clinical areas of unique interest to each student. Examples include the surgical subspecialties (burn unit, cardiothoracic surgery, ENT surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics, plastic surgery, urology, surgical intensive care trauma and urology); forensic medicine; women’s health; family practice; medical subspecialties (cardiology, dermatology, electrophysiology, gastroenterology, hematology-oncology, infectious disease, neurology and pain management) and community medicine. For those interested in pursuing education or administrative ventures, clerkships can be set up in those areas, as well.

The requirements for the Master of Science include the development of a research thesis project. The proposal for the thesis must be approved by the department and either the hospital IRB (Institutional Review Board) or college HERB (Human Experimental Review Board) prior to its implementation. The final thesis, approved by the Research Committee, is presented at Poster Presentations and defended at the Annual Research Forum.

Upon completion of the Physician Assistant Program, students are awarded a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Advanced PA Studies from Wagner College and a PA Certificate of Completion as well as a certificate acknowledging the Research Thesis Project from the Wagner College PA Program. Certification for clinical practice is granted by passing the PANCE (Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam). Registration and licensure are under the supervision of each state.

The Goals of the Physician Assistant Program

The goals of the program are to prepare the PA to become a health care provider of quality care:

  1. Integrate the three tenets of academic knowledge, clinical skills and professionalism into a comprehensive curriculum encompassing courses in the medical sciences, clinical preparatory sciences and professional practice.
  2. Facilitate through a sequential, ‘building block curriculum the acquisition of knowledge relevant to clinical practice.
  3. Provide learning experiences that will promote the development of critical thinking and medical decision making skills.
  4. Enhance clinical competencies by providing experiences - in a spectrum of settings with patients across the lifespan requiring varying aspects of patient care.
  5. Guide the development of professionally relevant research projects leading to the dissemination of findings at public forums and at a thesis defense.

The program defines its success by demonstrating the achievement of the above goals.

For further information regarding the PA program, see the WAGNER COLLEGE PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT STUDENT HANDBOOK 2013-2014