Nora Lowy, PhDc, MPA, PA-C
Director of Physician Assistant Program
The mission of the three-year BS/MS Physician Assistant Program is to prepare professional academic clinicians committed to providing quality health care.
The Wagner College Physician Assistant Program in 1996 received provisional accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation (CAAHEP) prior to enrollment of its first class of students. It has since received Continued Accreditation by the ARC-PA (Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the PA, Inc.). It is scheduled for the next ARC-PA review in September 2011.
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 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. The program is dedicated to the advancement of physician assistant education, emphasizes the acquisition of the knowledge and skills required of the PA for functioning in a dynamic healthcare environment and promotes service to the community.
The Didactic Phase (Year I) includes classroom and laboratory instruction in Medical Sciences (Clinical Anatomy, Medical Physiology, Medical Microbiology, Human Genetics and Clinical Pathology), Behavioral Sciences, Clinical Sciences, (General Medicine, Emergency & Surgical Medicine, Maternal & Child Medicine, Primary Care & Pharmacotherapeutics) and Professional Role. Clinical exposure begins in the didactic phase of the program by providing supervised 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) and is further developed as clerkships in the Graduate Phase (Year III).
The structured Clinical Phase takes place at affiliated hospitals, outpatient clinics and other affiliate 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 rotations are intensive, supervised, hands-on learning experiences in various medical and surgical areas. These supervised clinical rotations are in medical disciplines such as primary care, general medicine, surgery, emergency medicine, urgent care, long term care, obstetrics, gynecology, general pediatrics, neonatology, adolescent health, general pediatrics, psychiatry, substance abuse and community health.
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 requirement 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 work consists of didactic coursework that is complemented with clinical experiences in the form of clerkships.
All clinical rotations emphasize the provision of diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive and health maintenance services in any setting, with particular emphasis on the primary care aspects of care.
Clerkship experiences are available in elective clinical areas in areas of unique interest to each student. Examples include the surgical subspecialties (cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery, urology, ophthalmology, orthopedics); pediatric subspecialties (pediatric cardiology, pediatric urology, pediatric orthopedics); forensic medicine, women’s health, family health; research, substance abuse, trauma, cardiac catheterization and dermatology. For those interested in pursuing education or administrative ventures, clerkships are available in those areas, as well.
The requirements for the Master of Science include the development of a research project. The proposal for the thesis is approved by the department and either the hospital IRB (Institutional Review Board) or college HERB (Human Experimental Review Board) and preparation for its development is directed by a faculty advisor. 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 National Commission Certification of Physician Assistant (NCCPA) exam or 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:
- Integrate the three tenets of academic knowledge, clinical skills and professionalism into a comprehensive curriculum encompassing the medical, behavioral and clinical preparatory sciences.
- Facilitate the acquisition of knowledge relevant to clinical practice through a sequential, ‘building block curriculum.
- Promote the development of critical thinking and medical decision making skills throughout all phases of the program.
- Enhance clinical competencies by providing experiences reflective of future professional practice – in a spectrum of settings with patients across the lifespan requiring aspects of patient care.
- Guide the development of clinically relevant research projects leading to the dissemination of findings at public forums and 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 Program Student Handbook.