Anatomage Lab

 

Master of Medical Science

 

PAs (physician associates) 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 Associate 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 associate 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 Reading 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 Associate Profession

PAs (physician associates) 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.

Professional Title Change

On May 24, 2021, the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) House of Delegates passed a resolution affirming “physician associate” as the official title of the PA profession. This title change will take time to fully implement as it involves other national PA organizations: Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA), National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), and Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA); PA programs, AAPA Constituent Organizations, as well as state and federal governments, regulators, and employers.

The purpose of the title change is to allow PAs to hold a professional title that ensures clarity about the work that they provide within the healthcare system. It does not impact a PA’s scope of practice. PAs will continue to use physician assistant as their official legal title in the professional capacity until jurisdiction governing licensure and practice has formally adopted the new title. This process may take several years but is underway. Therefore, Alvernia University has adopted the title “Physician Associate Program” as a reflection of the status of the profession.

For more information about the Physician Associate title change investigation and final report to the AAPA House of Delegates, please refer to the AAPA website.

Career Outlook for Physician Associates

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 John R. Post Center at Reading CollegeTowne 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 23 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. We’re also 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 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 admission requirements for the PA program.

Step One: Admission Requirements for the Bio-PA (3+2) Accelerated Program

  • Decisions regarding admission into the biology portion of the program will be made by the Office of Admissions in accordance with the university undergraduate admissions policies. The Physician Associate Program Director will be consulted as needed.
  • Admission into the BIO-PA accelerated (3+2) program will be available to students who meet the criteria of 3.5 high school GPA. This is a hard cut-off and there will be no rounding. The SAT is optional with a desired score of 1170 to be considered competitive.
  • All students must take a math competency examination with results indicating a proficiency level for pre-calculus or higher. Those students who are required to take pre-calculus must do so during the summer semester prior to the fall of their freshman year.
  • AP credit will be accepted with a score of 4 or higher. All students on the Bio-PA (3+2) accelerated track must take a higher-level course in the same content area if AP credit is used.
  • Transfer credit will be accepted for courses with a grade of 3.0 or higher. All students on the Bio-PA (3+2) accelerated track must take a higher-level course in the same content area if transfer credits are used.
  • Acceptance into the Bio-Pa (3+2) accelerated program is conditional pending verification of final high school transcripts · 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. For more information about the Bio-PA 3+2 Accelerated programcontact us at Admissions@alvernia.edu.
     

Step Two: Admission Requirements for the Bio-PA (3+2) Accelerated Program

All students must apply to the Physician Associate Program via CASPA.

Academic Criteria 

  • Undergraduate courses must be taken in the order in which they are listed in the proposed curriculum 
  • AP credit will not be accepted for Science/Prerequisite courses after Fall 2022 
  • No less than “C” on any science or prerequisite course 
  • Minimum overall cumulative and science/prerequisite GPA of 3.4 for assured admission. 
  • Students must have an academic counseling session each semester


GRE 

  • All students must take the GRE examination but results will not be included in the admission decision.  


Direct Patient Care Hours 

  • Minimum of 200 direct patient care hours with at least 8 hours direct interaction with a PA. Any hours credited as part of education or training will not count. Direct patient care hours may be paid or volunteer but paid direct patient care hours are strongly recommended. 


Community Service 

  • Evidence of community service is not required by highly recommended.  


Interviews 

  • No interview is required but there will be a required accepted students’ day on campus. 


Custom Essay 

  • A custom essay will be required via CASPA to assess the applicants’ alignment with the University and Program mission and goals. 


Criminal Background Check 

  • All applicants must pass a criminal background check prior to applying to the PA program. They must pass another prior to starting the clinical phase of the program. 


Minimum Technical Standards 

  • All applicants must meet the program’s published minimum technical standards.

*Subject to change

Learn more about the program at a virtual faculty session

At this time, the BIO-PA 3+2 program is only available for first-year students. We invite transfer students to complete another major and apply for Master's in Physician Associate programs after completion of their baccalaureate degree.


Post-Baccalaureate Master of Medical Science in Physician Associate 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.

Academic Criteria

  • We do not offer advanced placement
  • AP credit will not be accepted for Science/Prerequisite courses after Fall 2022
  • No less than “C” on any science or prerequisite course
  • Minimum overall Cumulative, Science, and Prerequisite GPA of 3.0. Extra rubric points for GPA 3.4 or higher.
  • We will not enroll applicant who have graduated from a foreign or domestic medical institution.
  • Applicants may have two outstanding prerequisites at the time of CASPA application submission, but these must be completed and verified prior to matriculation.All prerequisite courses must be completed within 10 years of CASPA application submission.
  • Pass/Fail grades for prerequisite courses will not be accepted.
  • Applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree awarded from an accredited institution at the time of matriculation.
  • Foreign applicants must have completed at least one year of study in a US or English-Speaking institution and fulfill our minimum requirements for the English proficiency examination.
  • Applicants must have a Bachelor's degree awarded from an accredited institution at the time of matriculation.
  • International applicants who have completed courses outside the U.S. are required to have their transcripts and degrees evaluated by World Education Services (WES)
Physician Associate Program Prerequisite Courses

Anatomy or A&P I 

One course, or a minimum of 3 semester hours. Lab is not required but strongly recommended. 

Physiology or A&P II 

One course, or a minimum of 3 semester hours. Lab is not required but strongly recommended. 

General Chemistry 

Two courses, or a minimum of 6 semester hours. Lab is not required but strongly recommended. 

General Biology 

Two courses, or a minimum of 6 semester hours. Lab is not required but strongly recommended. 

Statistics 

One course, or a minimum of 3 semester hours. Lab is not required but strongly recommended. 

Microbiology 

One course, or a minimum of 3 semester hours. Lab is not required but strongly recommended. 

Psychology 

One course, or a minimum of 3 semester hours. Lab is not required but strongly recommended. 

Organic Chemistry or Biochemistry 

One course, or a minimum of 3 semester hours. Lab is not required but strongly recommended. 

GRE

  • All students must take the GRE examination but results will not be included in the admission decision.  


Direct Patient Care Hours 

  • Minimum of 200 direct patient care hours with at least 8 hours direct interaction with a PA. Any hours credited as part of education or training will not count. Direct patient care hours may be paid or volunteer but paid direct patient care hours are strongly recommended. 


Community Service 

  • Evidence of community service is not required by highly recommended. Extra rubric points awarded for evidence of community service. 


Interviews 

  • No interview is required but there will be an optional accepted students’ day on campus. 


Custom Essay 

  • A custom essay will be required via CASPA to assess the applicants’ alignment with the University and Program mission and goals. 


Criminal Background Check 

  • All applicants must pass a criminal background check prior to applying to the PA program. They must pass another prior to starting the clinical phase of the program. 


Minimum Technical Standards

  • All applicants must meet the program’s published minimum technical standards. 

Foreign Students 

  • Applicants who have completed course work outside of the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, or any other English-speaking country must take an English proficiency examination.  The following minimum test scores are required: IELTS 6.0, Duolingo 105-115, TOEFL 79 


Special Considerations 

  • Alvernia University Alumni and Undergraduates 
  • Cumulative, Science, and Prerequisite GPA of 3.4 or higher 
  • Community Service 
  • Mission alignment and awareness 
  • Current and past military service 
  • Applicants who speak Spanish 


*Subject to Change 

Curriculum

The undergraduate Biology curriculum for the Bio-PA 3+2 Program is as follows: 

Summer MOD 6 prior to Freshman Fall 

 

Course Title 

credits 

MAT 131 (if needed) 

 

 

Semester 1 (Freshman) 

 

Course Title 

credits 

Core (COM 101 Recommended) 

SHR 101 

BIO 103: Principles of Biology I w/ Lab 

CHE 104: General Chemistry I 

CHE 110: General Chemistry Lab I 

CHE 107: Laboratory Safety 

  

  

Total credits 

15 

SEARCH credits 

 

Semester 2 (Freshman) 

 

Course Title 

credits 

PHI 105/THE 105 

PSY 101 (core) 

BIO 104: Principles of Biology II w/ Lab  

CHE 105: General Chemistry II 

CHE 111: General Chemistry Lab II 

MAT 230 Calculus I 

  

  

Total credits 

18 

SEARCH credits 

 

Semester 3 (Sophomore) 

 

Course Title 

credits 

PHI 105/THE 105 

CORE 

CHE 201: Organic Chemistry I 

CHE 210: Organic Chemistry Lab I 

MAT 209: Probability and Statistics 

MAT 220: Math/Statistics Computer Lab 

BIO 107 Human Anatomy & Physiology I 

BIO 117 Human Anatomy & Physiology I Lab  

Total credits 

18 

SEARCH credits 

 

Semester 4 (Sophomore) 

 

Course Title 

credits 

CORE 

CORE 

CHE 202: Organic Chemistry II 

CHE 211: Organic Chemistry Lab II 

BIO 221: General Microbiology w/ lab 

BIO 108 Human Anatomy & Physiology II 

BIO 118 Human Anatomy & Physiology II Lab  

  

  

Total credits 

18 

SEARCH credits 

 

Semester 5 (Junior) 

 

Course Title 

credits 

CORE (Diversity) 

CORE 

BIO 303: Genetics w/ Lab 

BIO 320: Ecology 

PHY 200: Physics I w/ Lab 

  

  

Total credits 

18 

SEARCH credits 

 

Semester 6 (Junior) 

 

Course Title 

credits 

CORE 

CORE 

CORE 

BIO 304: Cell Biology 

BIO 311: Cell Biology Lab 

PHY 201: Physics II w/ Lab 

Total credits 

17 

SEARCH credits 

9

The Curriculum for the Physician Associate Program is under development.

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

Upcoming Events