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  • 1. PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROGRAM
  • 2. HISTORY THE UNIVERSITY George Washington was determined to have a university in the nation's capital. He bequeathed 50 shares of The Potomac Company “…toward the endowment of a University to be established within the limits of the District of Columbia…” A group of Baptist clergymen raised funds for the purchase of a site and petitioned Congress for a charter. Congress gave a non-sectarian charter and "Columbian College", as it was originally named, began in 1821. The name of the institution was changed in 1873 to Columbian University and in 1904 to The George Washington University. By 1918, the University moved to its current Foggy Bottom location in the heart of Washington, D.C. Currently, the more than 90 campus buildings are situated on a 43-acre tract of land, bordered by the White House, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the State Department, the National Academy of Sciences, the World Bank, and numerous federal agencies, national galleries and museums. Students are from all 50 states and more than 130 different countries. THE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AND THE MEDICAL CENTER The School of Medicine, the eleventh oldest medical school in the country, opened in 1825. Congress granted it the use of the Washington Infirmary in 1844, creating one of America's first teaching hospitals. The Infirmary also served as a military hospital during the Civil War. The Medical Center's present hospital was dedicated in 1948 as a premier medical facility in the nation's capital. Construction of the new facility began in 2000 and was the first new hospital in the District of Columbia in more than 20 years. The Medical Center opened the University Clinic in 1969, adjacent to the hospital, and established the GW Health Plan in 1972. It is one of the oldest, locally sponsored, not-for-profit managed care facilities in the United States. The School of Medicine changed its name in 1973 to the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The Medical Faculty Associates, an independent faculty practice plan affiliated with the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, was incorporated in July 2000. The George Washington University Medical Center currently includes The School of Medicine and Health Sciences, The School of Public Health and Health Services, The Medical Faculty Associates, The George Washington University Health Plan and The George Washington University Hospital. HEALTH SCIENCES PROGRAMS GW officially recognized the Health Sciences Programs in 1973 when the name School of Medicine became the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The guiding principles of the development of the Health Sciences Programs have been a commitment to interdisciplinary education, community service and excellence in education. While the Health Sciences Programs have been at GW since the 1940’s with the initiation of the clinical laboratory sciences, the programs expanded significantly with the development of the Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner Programs in the early 1970s. Since then, the number of Health Sciences Programs has expanded dramatically, reflecting the changing needs of the health care system. As health care has become more specialized, the need for an extended work force has grown.
  • 3. GW has been in the forefront of establishing health sciences education as a university based endeavor. GW faculty have been leaders in elevating the educational level of “allied” health workers from primarily a certificate base to degree program. To reflect this change, in 1987 the programs that had been called “allied health” became known as the Health Sciences Programs. Today there are over fourteen different health sciences programs ranging from certificate and bachelor’s to graduate and post-master’s programs. There are on-campus, as well as, technology mediated learning programs. The commitment is to provide education to individuals wherever they are and whenever they can learn. Career paths have been developed to assist anyone in a health sciences field to continue their education through the graduate level. Students enrolled in the Health Sciences Programs take courses with students enrolled in other programs, and many faculty teach students in a variety of programs, thus maintaining the commitment to interdisciplinary education. Graduates of the GW programs excel in their clinical abilities and many have become leaders in their field. Graduates of these programs are prepared to begin careers in hospitals, clinics, laboratories, rehabilitation centers, and other health promotion settings. THE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) was built upon the foundations of three pre-existing programs: The Public Health Programs, based in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences; the Master of Health Services Administration Program, based in the School of Business and Public Management; and the Exercise Science Program, based in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development. The School was officially established in October of 1996. The mission of the School was to address the health needs of the community and the basic goals of education, research, and community service, while serving as a forum for local, national, and international dialogue and debate. It is the only school of public health in the nation’s capital, and the first school to formally combine public health and health services. The SPHHS includes five academic departments: Environmental and Occupational Health Epidemiology-Biostatistics Health Services Management and Policy International Public Health Prevention and Community Health The SPHHS also provides continuing education programs and colloquia ranging in subjects from Adolescent Health to International Health, and meetings, such as a regional tuberculosis control consortium and a Public Health Week Forum on Mental Health. The George Washington University Medical Center, with the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the School of Public Health and Health Services, has evolved over 175 years into an academic health center that is internationally known for its exceptional education, research, and clinical care. THE PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROGRAM
  • 4. The George Washington University Hospital began to employ a number of ex-military corpsmen with independent duty experience in 1969. They were hired to work in the Emergency Room, under the direction of a physician. They were capable of suturing minor injuries, helping to apply and remove casts, administering medications, drawing blood, starting intravenous fluids, taking electrocardiograms, performing simple hematological and urine tests, and staining blood and bacteriologic smears. The interpretation of tests was always the responsibility of the physician. This experience was inordinately successful. A systems analysis in 1970 revealed that these ex- military corpsmen were accepted by housestaff and faculty alike. All were impressed with the judgment and capability of these young men. The program was then expanded. The corpsmen were hired into the Clinic where they performed functions similar to those established in the Emergency Room. Additionally, they began to care for patients in the Narcotic Treatment Program. The GWU Physician Assistant Program, established in September 1972, was built on this successful experience and was among the first in the nation to be established in an academic medical center. This new educational program was originally conceived to be a partial solution to the health manpower shortage of primary care physicians. It was anticipated that these new health care practitioners would provide the physician with technically skilled personnel who had the capacity to perform a number of tasks previously assumed to be the exclusive province of the physician. It was decided that the physician assistant should be “trained in parallel with the student of medicine”. In 1986 the University Board of Trustees approved a joint PA/MPH option for students interested in the clinical application of preventive medicine. It was envisioned that this would be taught in an integrated and simultaneous fashion. It was recognized that there were few precedents at GWU for a joint undergraduate (PA) and graduate (MPH) program and that there were no other PA/MPH programs in the nation. Now all students earn a MSHS degree or joint MSHS and MPH degrees. The GWU Physician Assistant Program is now a part of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and has graduated more than a thousand (1000) physician assistants. It has had continuous national accreditation since its inception. The program has changed its curriculum to reflect the medical needs of the nation while still providing the “technically skilled personnel” originally conceived. PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS AND PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT EDUCATION Health care has become one of the top concerns of the United States and indeed, has become one of the world's largest and fastest-growing industries. Explosive growth in technology and research has brought greater complexity and expectations in health care delivery, resulting in soaring costs. With this complexity comes the need for skills to understand, evaluate, and manage new information. Patients' high expectations increase the demands for choice and quality in the delivery of services and technology. Physician Assistants (PAs) are highly qualified health professionals who are prepared, through a demanding academic and clinical curriculum, to provide health care services under physician supervision. PAs gather and evaluate medical data and participate in the process of clinical decision making, diagnosis, and therapeutic management. In primary care setting, the PA is typically the initial contact for the patient, taking the history, performing the physical examination and ordering appropriate laboratory and radiological tests. In specialty setting, the PA may assist in surgery or in
  • 5. complex diagnostic procedures, participate in patient rounds and provide a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic services. As a knowledgeable and skilled member of the health care team, the PA improves the patient's access to health care and enhances the physician's effectiveness. The GWU Physician Assistant Program focuses on preparing health professionals who will extend and complement the capabilities of physicians in the delivery of health care. The faculty believe that it is essential for all PA graduates to be well-rounded clinicians, prepared for a variety of medial careers. The GWU Physician Assistant Program offers two graduate level programs: the traditional two (2) year program leading to a Master of Science in Health Sciences degree (MSHS) and the three (3) year joint program leading to both an MSHS and a Master of Public Health degree (MPH). Applicants to the joint PA/MPH program must meet admission requirements for both the MSHS program and the MPH program. It is important that GWU PA students demonstrate effectively the capacity to recognize the unique role of the PA and the scope of the professional responsibility inherent to the role. Every PA student should show proficiency in a common body of basic science knowledge and master the principles, knowledge, skills, and procedures of seven major medical disciplines: internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine, psychiatry, and primary care (ambulatory) medicine. This requires that every candidate should meet basic technical standards by having the capacity to observe and communicate; sufficient motor ability to perform physical examinations, basic laboratory, diagnostic, and therapeutic procedures; emotional stability to exercise good judgement and work effectively in stressful situations; and the intellectual ability to integrate and synthesize data, solve problems, and formulate treatment plans. The George Washington University does not unlawfully discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, veteran status, or sexual orientation. This policy covers all programs, services, policies and procedures of the University, including admission to education programs and employment. Reasonable accommodations will be made for applicants with disabilities who can meet the requirements noted above, if these accommodations can be accomplished without altering the essential elements of the physician assistant curriculum. PA DEGREE PROGRAMS MSHS PROGRAM This program prepares individuals for clinical careers. The curriculum emphasizes a scholarly approach to medicine, development of organizational and critical-thinking skills and clinical research methodology. The clinical research is conducted on a topic of interest, during the second year as part of the graduate clinical research practicum. The expected result of the research is a publication-quality paper, which may be formally presented. PA/MPH PROGRAM
  • 6. Applicants with a strong interest in public health may want to consider the joint PA/MPH program. This unique three-year program provides both clinical and academic preparation for careers in medicine and public health. Students in this curriculum receive advanced training in the design of health studies, epidemiological methods, application of computers to public health, community medicine and techniques of health promotion. Students in this program also design a special research project in collaboration with faculty of the School of Public Health Program and local, national, or international public health organizations. EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES The job market continues to be bright for PAs, according to annual surveys of recent GWU graduates, as well as, a national survey of all PA graduates. GWU PA graduates are heavily recruited, due to their strong academic and clinical training and the reputation of GWU’s PA program and Medical Center. Graduates have found employment in all areas of medicine. Approximately 50% of the Program graduates are in general/primary care medicine, 20% are found in surgery, 15% are in emergency medicine. The reminder of the graduates can be found in pediatrics, OB/GYN, occupational medicine and so on. The PA Program has a large group of dedicated alumni who also help with employment opportunities, both locally and nationwide. FACULTY The core faculty are experienced PA educators and clinicians. They have expertise in a broad range of areas including clinical medicine, clinical research, health policy and health services management. They have experience and affiliations with a variety of clinical settings. The faculty also are active in PA professional organizations, including the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, the Association of PA Programs, and several state and local PA associations. The GWU PA Program also utilizes the resources of other faculty from the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the School of Public Health and Health Services who are national and international experts in their fields. PROGRAM FORMAT AND CONTENT The Physician Assistant Program is a 24-month, full-time educational program divided into an academic and a clinical phase. The academic, or didactic phase, of the program is 42 weeks and consists of four components: (1) basic sciences, (2) behavioral sciences, (3) clinical medicine and (4) pre-clinical skills. The academic phase also includes clinical patient experience. The educational setting is an interdisciplinary environment with courses taken with medical students, nurse practitioner students and other health sciences students. The clinical phase consists of a series of rotations that take place in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings. Students participate in the care of patients under physician supervision. There are six 6-week rotations; a 4-week psychiatry rotation; two 4-week elective rotations; and a 7-week final preceptorship that integrates all previous academic and clinical training. The curriculum also includes an innovative and nationally recognized community service component that introduces students to health care and social services in underserved areas of the Washington Metropolitan area. It enables students to learn what services are available to the community, how
  • 7. individuals access these services, and how to make appropriate referrals, while promoting an understanding of community factors that have an impact on the population’s health status. CLINICAL AFFILIATIONS Formal or programmatic affiliations for mandatory clinical training have been established with more than 60 sites in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic area. Other sites are possible for electives. PROGRAM OF STUDY MSHS FIRST YEAR Physiology Ambulatory care Research Anatomy Role of the PA in American Health Care Biochemistry Selected topics in Microbiology Clinical Assessment Topics in Emergency Medicine Clinical Decision Making Clinical Ethics SECOND YEAR Histology Community Service Human Behavior Elective Rotations (2) Introduction to Basic Laboratory Emergency Medicine Medicine Graduate Research Practicum Introduction to Electrocardiography Inpatient Medicine Introduction to Primary Care Obstetrics and Gynecology Introduction to Radiology Primary Care Preceptorship Manifestations of Disease Pediatrics Medical Terminology Psychiatry Pathology Surgical Inpatient Pharmacology PA/MPH FIRST YEAR Pharmacology for Health Science Administration of Health care Systems Students Advanced Community Health Program Design/ Anatomy Implementation/Evaluation Biochemistry Study Design for Health Professionals Biostatistical Applications Topics in Public Health Community Health Community Service Economics of Health Care Delivery YEAR TWO Environmental/Occupational Health Clinical Assessment Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine Clinical Decision Making Health Behavior and Health Education Clinical Ethics for PAs Medical Terminology Clinical Practicum MPH Special Project Community Health Management
  • 8. Human Behavior Physiology Introduction to Basic Laboratory The Role of the PA in American Health Medicine Care Introduction to Electrocardiography Topics in Emergency Medicine Introduction to Primary Care Introduction to Radiology YEAR THREE Manifestations of Disease Clinical Practicum (5) Microbiology Elective Rotations (2) Pathology for Health Sciences Students Primary Care Preceptorship Pharmacology in Disease Psychiatry Clinical Practicum Pathophysiology ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURES CASPA The GWU PA program participates in CASPA, the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants. This is a web-based centralized application process which allows one to apply to multiple PA programs. CASPA will verify your application for accuracy, electronically process it and send your materials to the physician assistant programs you designate. PROCESS CASPA processing begins when application materials and payment are received. The PA programs review completed applications, conduct interviews and make final admission decisions. Submitting materials early will ensure timely processing and help avoid delays. The CASPA application and official transcripts should be submitted and postmarked in accordance with the CASPA website instructions FEES The fee for using CASPA is based on the number of programs you designate to receive your application information. A limited number of application fee waivers are available. Meeting CASPA’s eligibility criterion for a fee waiver does not guarantee a waiver will be granted for supplemental program fees. CASPA WEBSITE Go to the following site for more CASPA information. http://secure.caspaonline.org GWU PA ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS
  • 9. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and complete the following minimum prerequisites from an accredited institution of higher learning in the United States: Two semesters of biological sciences for science majors (human anatomy and physiology strongly recommended, botany not acceptable) Two semesters of chemistry for science majors (one semester should either be organic or biochemistry) Two semesters of psychology (general psychology required, abnormal psychology strongly recommended) All prerequisites must be completed with a grade of B- or better. Applicants may apply to the program with one outstanding prerequisite but prerequisites must be completed by July 31 prior to the beginning of the program. College seniors are eligible to apply provided that they will have fulfilled all the baccalaureate requirements before matriculating in August. All applicants must be in good academic standing. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) must have been taken within the past five years, except for those applicants already awarded a post-baccalaureate degree. One year of direct patient care experience is highly recommended. Tuition and fees are subject to change each year. Students also should budget for related costs such as housing, meals, books and supplies. Detailed financial aid information will be provided upon acceptance. STUDENT LIFE The GWU is an exciting community in which to live and learn. The campus offers dining facilities, lounges, recreational facilities, meeting rooms, varsity and intramural sports and a bookstore. Clubs and organizations of every type offer opportunities. Washington is an ideal location for sightseeing, performing arts, museums, and cultural activities, as well as, good food and music from a variety of cultures. HOUSING Graduate students live off campus. An Off-Campus Housing Resource Center is available to assist students. TRANSPORTATION The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences is located beside the Foggy Bottom stop on the METRO rail line (subway). FOR MORE INFORMATION
  • 10. The GWU PA Program provides monthly information sessions for prospective students who wish to discuss the PA profession. To register or for more information call the program at (202) 530-2390 or go to the following web page: http://www.gwu.edu/~gwu_pa If you have any questions, please write or call: The George Washington University Medical Center Office of Recruitment and Addmissions 2300 K St., NW, Suite 102 Washington, DC 20037-1700 202-994-2807 E-mail: hsphora@gwu.edu Website: www.gwumc.edu/healthsci/