Master of Physician Assistant Studies

Location: Boston
Start Term: Fall

As a PA, you provide care to patients as a vital member of the healthcare team. This program builds on your bachelor’s degree and incorporates the study of medical and behavioral sciences with real-world clinical experiences throughout New England and beyond.

During this graduate program, you will have 4 semesters of didactic classwork and then you will experience a challenging series of supervised clinical rotations for 3 semesters. These clinical rotations take place in a wide variety of settings to gain experience in surgery, women's health, psychiatry, pediatrics, emergency medicine, internal medicine and electives of your choice. When you graduate, you’ll have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide quality and compassionate medical care, function as a highly valued member of a healthcare team and serve as a patient advocate.

For admission to the program, external applicants must have:

  • Baccalaureate degree
  • Minimum overall 3.2 GPA on a 4.0 scale
  • Minimum overall science GPA 3.2 on a 4.0 scale
  • Minimum prerequisite GPA 3.2 on a 4.0 scale
  • 250 hours of patient care experience

MCPHS Pre-Med PA pathway students applying to the MPAS fall 2020 or prior must have:

  • Minimum overall 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale
  • Minimum prerequisite GPA 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • 250 hours of patient care experience (recommended)

MCPHS Pre-Med PA pathway students applying to the MPAS fall 2021 or later must have:

  • Minimum overall 3.2 GPA on a 4.0 scale
  • Minimum overall science GPA 3.2 on a 4.0 scale
  • Minimum prerequisite GPA 3.2 on a 4.0 scale
  • 250 hours of patient care experience

Additionally, the following prerequisite courses must be completed:

  • General Biology I (3 credits)
  • General Biology II with lab (4 credits)
  • Anatomy & Physiology I & II (6 credits) (Acceptable substitutions include Anatomy & Physiology I and II or one semester’s equivalent of Anatomy and one semester’s equivalent of Physiology.)
  • Microbiology with lab (4 credits)
  • 3 Semesters of Chemistry (one lab required), minimum 10 semester hour credits. At least one semester must be an Upper Level Chemistry course (3 credits). Acceptable upper level courses include Organic Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Biochemistry, or any 200 level or higher Chemistry course.
  • Psychology (3 credits)
  • Statistics (3 credits) (Acceptable substitutions include basic statistics, biostatistics, psychological statistics, economic statistics)

Prerequisite courses (as indicated above) must have been completed at a regionally accredited college or university with a grade of C or better. Math and science courses must be taken no more than ten years prior to the anticipated date of matriculation to MCPHS .

Please note: MCPHS University gives preference to students currently in our Premedical and Health Studies Pathway Program. MCPHS University receives over 1500 applications each year. We interview approximately 260 candidates who best demonstrate the ability to be successful in the program and show clear understanding of the role of the PA through written narratives and patient contact experience.

As an integral part of Master of Physician Assistant Studies program, supervised clinical rotations allow students to apply and reinforce their clinical and patient management skills. Students complete a series of required clinical rotations, which capitalize on the healthcare institutions in the Longwood Medical Area, and throughout Boston, New England and beyond. The breadth of clinical settings offers the future physician assistant the ability to acquire skills and competencies in a variety of settings.

COURSE TITLE SEMESTER HOURS

Year I-Fall*

PAS 514 Ethics and Professional Issues in PA Practice 2
PAS 515 Genetics 3
PAS 516
Primary Care Psychiatry
1
PAS 517
Human Physiology and Pathophysiology 3
PAS 518 Clinical Pharmacology I 3
PAS 529
Research Methods I
2
TOTAL
14

Year I-Spring


PAS 520 Clinical Pharmacology II 3
PAS 524 Gross Anatomy (w/lab) 5
PAS 527 Human Physiology and Pathophysiology II 3
PAS 529 Research Methods for PAs II 1
PAS 535 Electrocardiography 2
PAS 525
Diagnostic Methods 2
TOTAL
16

Year II-Fall



PAS 551 Clinical Medicine I 5
PAS 552 Clinical Medicine II 5
PAS 536
Patient Assessment I
2
PAS 537 Clinical Therapeutics I 2
PAS 538 Physical Examination I 2
PAS 538L Physical Examination I-Laboratory 2
TOTAL
18

Year II-Spring


PAS 540 Physical Examination II: Skills and Procedures 2
PAS 540L Physical Examination II: Skills and Procedures Lab 2
PAS 546
Patient Assessment II
2
PAS 547
Clinical Therapeutics II 2
PAS 553 Clinical Medicine III 6
PAS 554 Clinical Medicine IV 4
TOTAL
18

Year III-Clinical Clerkships**

PAS 600 Medicine I 5
PAS 601 Pediatrics 5
PAS 602 Psychiatry 5
PAS 603 Surgery 5
PAS 604 Emergency Medicine 5
PAS 605 Women's Health 5
PAS 607 Medicine II 5
PAS 608 Elective I 5
PAS 606 Elective II

*Competencies during the fall semester: Library Modules and Medical Terminology.

**Beginning in the first summer session following the second year, each student begins a series of required clinical clerkships for a duration of 45 weeks. Summer I and II, 15 s.h.; Fall semester, 15 s.h.; Spring semester, 15 s.h.

Total credits to complete degree requirements: 111 s.h.

Vision Statement

The goal of physician assistant education is to provide graduating physician assistants with the tools necessary to work within the healthcare system as part of a medical team. Physician assistants are essential in order to increase patient access to medical care. The goal of a successful PA program is to teach PA students a method of collecting practical, relevant, and comprehensive patient information and to communicate that information to other medical team members in order to establish the most accurate and complete clinical assessment and create the best treatment plan. PA students learn to take a detailed and pertinent history from patients and family members in order to appreciate and document the complex and subtle details needed to create an accurate diagnosis. Students learn to appreciate and describe abnormal physical exam findings. With a strong foundation in pathophysiology and clinical medicine, PA students determine which diagnostic studies are necessary for obtaining pertinent clinical information and interpret the results of laboratory tests and radiographs. By demonstrating facility with these tools, the PA will improve the quality of life of those they serve.

Mission Statement

The mission of MCPHS University Boston-PA Program is to provide each student with the knowledge and skills to provide quality and compassionate medical care, function as a highly valued member of a health care team, and serve as a patient advocate.

Program Goals

The goals of the Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies program are:

  1. Provide students with a strong foundation in the basic and clinical sciences enabling them to provide high quality preventive care, medical management and patient education in a wide variety of practice settings.
  2. Facilitate active learning and clinical decision making skills.
  3. Foster interpersonal and professional qualities essential to providing patient care in an ethical manner.
  4. Develop skills to function as a competent member of an interprofessional team.
  5. Instill the value of lifelong learning and promote service to the profession.

The annual tuition for the Accelerated Master of  Physician Assistant Studies program is:

  • Pre-professional phase: $31,600 (per combined fall and spring semesters )
  • Professional Year Rate (4th year): $37,200 (per combined fall and spring semesters)

For more detailed information, visit:

Tuition and Fees

Payments, Withdrawals and Refunds

Technical Standards for Admission, Promotion, and Graduation A candidate for the MCPHS University–Manchester/Worcester Physician Assistant Studies program must have, at a minimum, skills in five categories: observation, communication, motor, intellectual, and behavior/social. Reasonable accommodation for persons with documented disabilities will be considered on an individual basis, but a candidate must be able to perform in an independent manner. The following skills are required with or without accommodation:

Observation

Candidates must have sufficient capacity to observe in the lecture hall, the laboratory, the outpatient setting, and the patient's bedside. Sensory skills to perform a physical examination are required. Functional vision, hearing, and tactile sensation are required to properly observe a patient's condition and to perform procedures regularly required during a physical examination such as inspection, auscultation, and palpation.

Communication

Candidates must be able to communicate effectively in both academic and healthcare settings. Candidates must show evidence of effective written and verbal communication skills. Candidates must be able to communicate with patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity, and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. Candidates must be capable of completing, in a thorough and timely manner, appropriate medical records and documents and plans according to protocol.

Motor

The ability to participate in basic diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers and procedures (e.g., palpation, auscultation) is required. Candidates must have sufficient motor function to execute movements reasonably required to properly care for all patients. Candidates must be able to move freely about patient care environments and must be able to move between settings such as clinics, classroom buildings, and hospitals. In addition, physical stamina sufficient to complete the rigorous course of didactic and clinical study is required. Long periods of sitting, standing, or moving are required in classroom, laboratory, and clinical experiences.

Intellectual

Candidates must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, and synthesize. Problem solving, one of the critical skills demanded of physician assistants, requires all of these intellectual abilities. Candidates must be able to read and understand medical literature. In order to complete the Physician Assistant Studies program, candidates must be able to demonstrate mastery of these skills and the ability to use them together in a timely fashion in medical problem-solving and patient care.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Candidates must possess the emotional health and stability required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the prompt completion of all academic and patient care responsibilities. The development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients and other members of the healthcare team is essential. The ability to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in clinical practice, flexibility, compassion, integrity, motivation, interpersonal skills, and concern for others are all required. Candidates must be able to function effectively under stress and have the ability to accept constructive criticism and handle difficult interpersonal relationships during training.

Program Competencies

These are the expected outcomes as a physician assistant (PA) graduates from MCPHS–Manchester/Worcester. These outcomes or program graduation competencies were endorsed by the NCCPA, AAPA, and PAEA to guide PA programs to modify and improve PA curriculum. All didactic and clinical experiences cumulatively contribute to these outcomes.

Mastery of these areas will be gradual and will not occur with any single exam, course, or rotation. It is a process that takes time, study, and effort. There are several instruments used to measure acquisition and achievement of these competencies including preceptor evaluations, graduate exit surveys, employer surveys, and post-graduate surveys two years after completion of the program. MCPHS University–Manchester/Worcester uses these competencies as an important component of the summative evaluation process. These competencies were adopted by the faculty and staff members of the MCPHS University PA program to serve as a roadmap to enter practice as a competent physician assistant.

Medical Knowledge

Medical knowledge includes an understanding of pathophysiology, patient presentation, differential diagnosis, patient management, surgical principles, health promotion, and disease prevention. Physician assistants must demonstrate core knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care in their area of practice. In addition, physician assistants are expected to demonstrate an investigatory and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations. Physician assistants are expected to:

  • Understand etiologies, risk factors, underlying pathologic process, and epidemiology for medical conditions
  • Identify signs and symptoms of medical conditions
  • Select and interpret appropriate diagnostic or lab studies
  • Manage general medical and surgical conditions to include understanding the indications, contraindications, side effects, interactions, and adverse reactions of pharmacologic agents and other relevant treatment modalities
  • Identify the appropriate site of care for presenting conditions, including identifying emergent cases and those requiring referral or admission
  • Identify appropriate interventions for prevention of conditions
  • Identify the appropriate methods to detect conditions in an asymptomatic individual
  • Differentiate between the normal and the abnormal in anatomic, physiological, laboratory findings, and other diagnostic data
  • Appropriately use history and physical findings and diagnostic studies to formulate a differential diagnosis
  • Provide appropriate care to patients with chronic conditions

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

Interpersonal and communication skills encompass verbal, nonverbal, and written exchange of information. Physician assistants must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, their patients' families, physicians, professional associates, and the healthcare system. Physician assistants are expected to:

  • Use effective listening, nonverbal, explanatory, questioning, and writing skills to elicit and provide information
  • Appropriately adapt communication style and messages to the context of the individual patient interaction
  • Work effectively with physicians and other healthcare professionals as a member or leader of a healthcare team or other professional group
  • Apply an understanding of human behavior, demonstrate emotional resilience and stability, adaptability, flexibility, and tolerance of ambiguity and anxiety
  • Accurately and adequately document and record information regarding the care process for medical, legal, quality, and financial purposes

Patient Care

Patient care includes age-appropriate assessment, evaluation, and management. Physician assistants must demonstrate care that is effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of wellness. Physician assistants are expected to:

  • Work effectively with physicians and other healthcare professionals to provide patient-centered care
  • Demonstrate caring and respectful behaviors when interacting with patients and their families
  • Gather essential and accurate information about their patients
  • Make informed decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on patient information and preferences, up-to-date scientific evidence and clinical judgment
  • Develop and carry out patient management plans
  • Counsel and educate patients and their families
  • Competently perform medical and surgical procedures considered essential in the area of practice
  • Provide healthcare services and education aimed at preventing health problems or maintaining health

Professionalism

Professionalism is the expression of positive values and ideals as care is delivered. Foremost, it involves prioritizing the interests of those being served above one's own. Physician assistants must know their professional and personal limitations. Professionalism also requires that PAs practice without impairment from substance abuse, cognitive deficiency, or mental illness. Physician assistants must demonstrate a high level of responsibility, ethical practice, sensitivity to a diverse patient population, and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements. Physician assistants are expected to demonstrate:

  • Understanding of legal and regulatory requirements, as well as the appropriate role of the physician assistant
  • Professional relationships with physician supervisors and other healthcare providers
  • Respect, compassion, and integrity
  • Commitment to ethical principles pertaining to provision or withholding of clinical care, confidentiality of patient information, informed consent, and business practices
  • Sensitivity and responsiveness to patients' culture, age, gender, and disabilities
  • Self-reflection, critical curiosity, and initiative

Practice-Based Learning and Improvement

Practice-based learning and improvement includes the processes through which clinicians engage in critical analysis of their own practice experience, medical literature, and other information resources for the purpose of self-improvement. Physician assistants must be able to assess, evaluate, and improve their patient care practices. Physician assistants are expected to:

  • Locate, appraise, and integrate evidence from scientific studies related to their patients' health problems
  • Apply knowledge of study designs and statistical methods to the appraisal of clinical studies and other information on diagnostic and therapeutic effectiveness
  • Apply information technology to manage information, access online medical information, and support their own education

Systems-Based Practice

Systems-based practice encompasses the societal, organizational, and economic environments in which healthcare is delivered. Physician assistants must demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger system of healthcare to provide patient care that is of optimal value. PAs should work to improve the larger healthcare system of which their practices are a part. Physician assistants are expected to:

  • Use information technology to support patient care decisions and patient education
  • Effectively interact with different types of medical practice and delivery systems
  • Understand the funding sources and payment systems that provide coverage for patient care
  • Advocate for quality patient care and assist patients in dealing with system complexities
  • Apply medical information and clinical data systems to provide more effective, efficient patient care

Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) Performance

Download the first time PANCE pass rates for the five most recent graduating classes here.

Success at Meeting Program Goals

PA Boston has program outcome goals that are based on the Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession and we track our success at meeting these goals by surveying our graduates. The graduate survey asks many Likert-type questions that are designed to assess how well we have met our educational outcome goals. Graduate responses are grouped by the domain sampled and averaged. Data for the classes of 2015 and 2016 are based on a 5 point scale (5 is best) and data for the classes of 2013 and 2014 are based on a 4 point scale (4 is best). Summarized below are graduate survey response data for our last four graduated classes. The table below the goal breaks the goal into its component parts and reports averaged survey data by class year.

The goals of the Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies program are:

1. Provide students with a strong foundation in the basic and clinical sciences enabling them to provide high quality preventive care, medical management and patient education in a wide variety of practice settings.

Class of Basic Clinical
Science Foundation
Provision of
Preventive Care
Provision of
Medical Management
Provision of
Patient Education
2016 (scale: 1-5) 4.3 4.2 4.2 4.4
2015 (scale: 1-5) 4.3 4.2 4.2 4.6
2014 (scale: 1-4) 3.0 2.9 2.8 3.1
2013 (scale: 1-4) 3.0 2.8 2.7 3.0
2. Facilitate active learning and clinical decision making skills.
Class of Facilitation of
Active Learning
Facilitation of Clinical
Decision Making Skills
2016 (scale: 1-5) 4.5 4.3
2015 (scale: 1-5) 4.7 4.4
2014 (scale: 1-4) 3.0 2.7
2013 (scale: 1-4) 3.0 2.7
3. Foster interpersonal and professional qualities essential to providing patient care in an ethical manner.
Class of Possession of
Interpersonal Qualities
Possession of
Professional Qualities
Fostering and
Provision of Ethical Care
2016 (scale: 1-5) 4.4 4.4 4.5
2015 (scale: 1-5) 4.5 4.6 4.6
2014 (scale: 1-4) 3.0 3.0 3.0
2013 (scale: 1-4) 2.9 2.9 3.0
4. Develop skills to function as a competent member of an interprofessional team.
Class of Possession of Interprofessional
Team Practice Skills
2016 (scale: 1-5) 4.4
2015 (scale: 1-5) 4.5
2014 (scale: 1-4) 2.9
2013 (scale: 1-4) 2.9
5. Instill the value of lifelong learning and promote service to the profession.
Class Value of
Lifelong Learning
Commitment to
Professional Service
2016 (scale: 1-5) 4.4 4.4
2015 (scale: 1-5) 4.5 4.6
2014 (scale: 1-4) 2.9 3.0
2013 (scale: 1-4) 2.9 2.9

 

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

Continued 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 September 2022.

 

Service Learning in Action

Arianna Maida, Premed/PA ’20 volunteering in Morocco

Arianna Maida, Premed/PA ’20, explains how her experience in Morocco will make her a better healthcare specialist.

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