Physician Associate Program

 

Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies

 

PAs (physician associates/physician assistants) are licensed clinicians who practice medicine in every specialty and setting. Trusted, rigorously educated and trained healthcare professionals, PAs are dedicated to expanding access to care and transforming health and wellness through patient-centered, team-based medical practice.

Alvernia will offer two pathways to obtain an MMS degree in Physician Assistant Studies, a Bio-PA 3+2 program, and a traditional Post Baccalaureate program. Both will build on Alvernia’s student-centered learning model by providing the opportunity for experiential learning in the local community during both the didactic and clinical phases of the PA program This upholds Alvernia’s core value of Service by healing and nurturing members of the community in need.
 

Program Highlights

Program Overview

The physician assistant program is a 24-month program. The first 12 months will consist of the didactic phase, which will be delivered over three semesters, beginning in the fall. The curriculum will be based on the most recent ARC-PA standards and NCCPA PANCE blueprint and align with the University and Program’s mission and goals.

The curriculum will include basic and clinical sciences including an intensive anatomy course utilizing Anatomage tables and early experiential learning with direct patient care experiences. Students will begin working alongside faculty in a Pro Bono clinic in CollegeTowne during the first semester.

The second 12 months will consist of the clinical phase, during which students will participate in supervised clinical experiences which will allow them to meet program defined learning outcomes for the following:

  • Family Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Internal Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Women’s Health
  • Behavioral and Mental Health

Supervised clinical experiences will occur in both the inpatient and outpatient settings as well as the emergency department and operating room.

Physician Assistant Profession

PAs (physician associates/physician assistants) are licensed clinicians who practice medicine in every specialty and setting. Trusted, rigorously educated and trained healthcare professionals, PAs are dedicated to expanding access to care and transforming health and wellness through patient-centered, team-based medical practice.

There are approximately 150,000 PAs who practice in every medical setting in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. They work in hospitals, medical offices, community health centers, nursing homes, retail clinics, educational facilities, workplace clinics, and correctional institutions. PAs also serve in the nation’s uniformed services and work for other federal government agencies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs.

PAs’ specific duties depend on the setting in which they work, their level of experience, their specialty, and state laws.

Generally, PAs can:

  • Take medical histories
  • Conduct physical exams
  • Diagnose and treat illness
  • Order and interpret tests
  • Develop treatment plans
  • Prescribe medication
  • Counsel on preventive care
  • Perform procedures
  • Assist in surgery
  • Make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes
  • Do clinical research

Visit AAPA.ORG for more information.

Career Outlook for Physician Assistants

The PA profession is one of the fastest growing in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth rate for 2020-2030 is 31%, which is much higher than the average growth rate of 8% for all professions. The median annual wage for physician assistants was $121,530 in May 2021.1

According to the NCCPA 2020 Statistical Profile of Recently Certified PAs, the mean number of months for recently certified physician assistants to find and accept a clinical position was 2.6 months. A majority (62.7%) had two or more job offers. The median starting salary for recently certified PAs was $95,000, with a median salary of $98,412.2

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physician Assistants, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physician-assistants.htm. (visited May 16, 2022).

2National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, Inc. (2022, February). 2020 Statistical Profile of Recently Certified Physician Assistants: An Annual Report of the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Retrieved Date, from http://www.nccpa.net/.

Experience the Alvernia Advantage

Alvernia University is a private liberal arts university guided by Franciscan values that serves a diverse student body of 2,700 students who hail from 25 states and 14 countries. Located on 191 acres in Berks County, PA, our beautiful campus, and new metro-complex in downtown Reading, is an easy car ride to some of the Northeast’s major metropolitan areas.

With more than 50 undergraduate majors and minors, Alvernia offers students our unique blend of a rigorous liberal arts core for development of the mind, strong technical training in high-demand majors, experiential learning through study abroad and internship experiences, and community engagement through our service model.

We call this the Alvernia Advantage, and believe it prepares our students to not only make a living – but a life. A life of career success, community engagement and bringing people together through our Franciscan values.

As one of only 22 Franciscan institutions in the Country, these values influence all that we do. From curriculum to culture, our students learn to care about others and to be cognizant of social justice, equality and human dignity – qualities needed in our society – now, more than ever.

We’re proud to be the Golden Wolves, and our pack ranks in the top 100 among best regional universities in the North by U.S. News & World Report and we’re recognized as a College of Distinction for our commitment to engaged, experiential education.

Come join us and experience the Alvernia Advantage!

 

Degree Pathways and Curriculum 

Degree Pathways and Admission Criteria

Alvernia will offer two pathways to obtain an MMS degree in Physician Assistant Studies, a Bio-PA 3+2 program, and a traditional Post Baccalaureate program. Both will build on Alvernia’s student-centered learning model by providing the opportunity for experiential learning in the local community during both the didactic and clinical phases of the PA program This upholds Alvernia’s core value of Service by healing and nurturing members of the community in need.

Admission Criteria for BIO-PA (3+2) Accelerated Program

The Alvernia University Bio-PA (3+2) program is an accelerated, fast-paced course of study which allows focused students to obtain both a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Biology and a Master of Medical Science (MMS) degree in Physician Assistant Studies within five years. It requires full time attendance, including summers, during the last two years. The admissions process is a two-step process which includes academic acceptance to the University, followed by the necessity to meet all academic standards for admission into the PA program.

  • Academic Requirements for BIO-PA (3+2) Accelerated Program
    • Decisions regarding admission into the biology portion of the program will be made by the Office of Admissions. Admission into the BIO-PA accelerated (3+2) program will be available to students who meet the criteria of 3.5 high school GPA and 1170 SAT. Admissions into the accelerated program will be determined by the Physician Assistant Program and Biology Admissions Committee in accordance with the university undergraduate admissions policies. Upon timely completion of ALL admission criteria, applicants will be offered admission into the accelerated program and a conditional guaranteed admission into the graduate PA program as determined by each student’s ability to meet all PA program admission criteria. Students within the accelerated (3+2) format will follow a modified curricular plan in biology labeled BIO-PA.
  • Academic Requirements for Admission to the PA program via BIO-PA 3+2 Accelerated Program
    • The following pre-requisite courses must be completed with a final grade of "C" or better*
      • General Chemistry I and II; both with lab
      • Principles of Biology I and II, both with lab
      • Organic Chemistry I and II; both with lab
      • Anatomy and Physiology I and II; both with lab
      • Microbiology with lab
      • Statistics
      • Genetics
      • Medical Terminology
      • Immunology
      • Coursework in cell biology, biochemistry, pathophysiology, and pharmacology are highly recommended.

*Subject to change

Admissions criteria will be like those related to the Post Baccalaureate MMS Program and will be published prior to the CASPA portal opening in spring of 2023.

Post-Baccalaureate Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program

If provisional ARC-PA accreditation status is granted, an additional entry point into the Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies program will be available to post-baccalaureate graduates. The anticipated start date for this first cohort is Fall of 2024. All applications are processed by the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA, www.caspaonline.org). The program will begin accepting applications through CASPA in April of 2023. Admission decisions will be made on a rolling basis. Admissions criteria will be like those related to the 3+2 program and published prior to the CASPA portal opening in spring of 2023.

The PA program does not offer advanced placement. All Alvernia University graduates with a bachelor’s degree who meet the PA program’s admission criteria will be given preference for admission.

Curriculum

Semester 1 (16 credits)

  • COM 101 or MAT 131 if needed (3 credits)
  • SEARCH 101 (3 credits)
  • BIO 103 Principles of Biology w/ lab I (4 credits)
  • CHE 104 General Chemistry I (3 credits)
  • CHE 110 General Chemistry Lab I (1 credit)
  • BIO 200 Medical Terminology (1 credit)
  • CHE 107 Laboratory Safety (1 credit)

Semester 2 (18 credits)

  • PHI 105/THE 105 (3 credits)
  • BIO 104 Principles of Biology w/ lab II (4 credits)
  • CHE 105 General Chemistry II (3 credits)
  • CHE 111 General Chemistry  Lab II (1 credit)
  • MAT 230 Calculus I (4 credits)
  • CORE (PSY 101) (3 credits)

Semester 3 (18 credits)

  • PHI 105/THE 105 (3 credits)
  • CORE (3 credits)
  • CHE 201 Organic Chemistry I (3 credits)
  • CHE 210 Organic Chemistry Lab I (1 credit)
  • MAT 209 Probability and Statistics (3 credits)
  • MAT 220 Math/Statistics Computer Lab (1 credit)
  • BIO Elective (BIO 107/117) (4 credits)

Semester 4 (18 credits)

  • CORE (3 credits)
  • BIO 405 Pharmacology (3 credits)
  • CHE 202 Organic Chemistry II (3 credits)
  • CHE 211 Organic Chemistry Lab II (1 credit)
  • BIO 221 General Microbiology w/ Lab (4 credits)
  • BIO Elective (BIO 108/118) (4 credits)

Semester 5 (17 credits)

  • CORE (3 credits)
  • CORE (3 credits)
  • BIO 303 Genetics (3 credits)
  • BIO 309 Genetics Lab (1 credit)
  • BIO 409 Immunology (3 credits)
  • PHY 200 Physics w/ lab I (4 credits)

Semester 6 (17 credits)

  • CORE (3 credits)
  • CORE( 3 credits)
  • BIO 410 Pathophysiology (3 credits)
  • BIO 304 Cell Biology (3 credits) 
  • BIO 311 Cell Biology (1 credit) 
  • PSY 200 Physics w/ lab II (4 credits)

*Subject to change

Tuition

To determine the cost of this program, please visit our Tuition page. For a personalized estimate, please contact an admissions counselor at 610-790-8269 or at admissions@alvernia.edu.

Financial Aid

100% of Alvernia students receive some form of scholarship and/or aid. Our admissions counselors can help you identify the aid that is available to you and for your program. For more information, visit our Financial Aid page.

Accreditation

The Alvernia University Physician Assistant Program has applied for Accreditation - Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The Alvernia University Physician Assistant Program anticipates matriculating its first class in August, 2024, pending achieving Accreditation - Provisional status at the March 2024 ARC-PA meeting. Accreditation - Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students. Please note that The Alvernia University Physician Assistant Program will not commence if provisional accreditation status is not formally achieved. In addition, any student enrolled in the 3+2 program will be offered the opportunity to complete their biology degree in year four via a modified curriculum. Any deposits collected from admitted students will be refunded by the University should provisional accreditation status not be obtained from the ARC-PA.

All programs offered by Alvernia University are approved by the Department of Education of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

 


Learn More

For more information about Alvernia’s Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program contact the Admissions Office at 1-888-ALVERNIA or 610-796-8269 or admissions@alvernia.edu, or reach out directly to:

 

Department Contact

Renee Langstaff

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Physician Assistant Program Director

renee.langstaff@alvernia.edu

 

Photos on this page are courtesy of the AAPA