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Physician Assistant Studies (PAS)


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Physician Assistant Studies (PAS)

  1. 1. Physician Assistant Studies Telephone: (616) 331-3356 Email: Master of Physician Assistant Studies (PAS) Grand Valley State University is ideally suited to educate a wide variety of health professionals; among these are physician assistants. The university’s geographic location, supportive administration, and excellent faculty in both the professional arena and the basic medical sciences create an ideal climate for the development of top-notch medical professionals. The affiliation of Grand Valley’s health programs with Spectrum Health, St. Mary’s Mercy Medical Center, and Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, through the Grand Rapids Medical Education and Research Center for Health Professions, demonstrates the commitment of the university and the region to medical education. Grand Valley State University’s entry-level Master of Physician Assistant Studies (M.P.A.S.) Program was established in the 1990s, accepted its first class for entry in 1995, and graduated its inaugural class into the profession in 1998. The birth of the profession dates to the 1960s, when trained, experienced, military corpman and medics needed an avenue for using their skills within the general population. Under Dr. Eugene Stead at Duke Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina the first formal Physical Assistant Program was launched in 1967. Physician Assistants (PAs) are valued members of the medical and surgical care team. PAs are currently licensed in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Guam by delegatory or regulatory authority. Working with the supervision of doctors of medicine and/or osteopathy, PAs take histories, perform physical examinations, make clinical diagnosis’s, treat illnesses, provide patient education, counsel patients, assist in surgery, create patient orders, and interpret laboratory studies. Laws in 48 states and the District of Columbia and Guam authorize PAs to prescribe medication or transmit orders for dispensing medication. Because of the close working relationship PAs have with their supervising physicians, physician assistants are educated in a medical model that complements the physicians’ expertise. PAs see many of the same types of primary care problems and perform many of the same tasks as physicians, leaving the supervising physician to attend to more complicated cases. Physician assistants responsibilities depend upon state medical practice laws and regulations, the amount of clinical experience, and the setting in which they practice. Career Opportunities The physician assistant profession has seen tremendous growth during the past several years. The job market remains strong in most areas of the United States, particularly in rural and inner city locations. The National Industry-Occupation Employment Outlook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, predicts a 54 percent increase in physician assistant employment from 2000 to 2010 and lists the occupation of physician assistant as one of the 30 fastest growing. Physician assistants are employed in a wide variety of health care settings, from academic to administrative, to hospitals, clinics, and private practices. They work in HMOs, clinics, nursing homes, emergency rooms, private practice offices, industrial and occupational medicine, research facilities, correctional facilities, and Veterans’ Administration and public health service centers. PAs are found working with physicians in most primary care and speciality settings. Physician Assistant Studies at Grand Valley The 32-month M.P.A.S. degree is linked with the undergraduate programs at Grand Valley to create a “3+3” curriculum design that benefits undergraduate students enrolled in one of the Health Science Programs of the university. Under this model, students typically complete three years of coursework designed to meet the university’s general education requirements and the prerequisites for admission into the Physician Assistant Studies Program. Additional coursework in the natural, social, and health sciences and in the liberal arts prepares students to apply for admission to the program during their junior year. Students who are admitted into the professional curriculum should thus be able to earn a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences during their first year in the PA professional curriculum. A second cohort consists of students transferring from other universities, those who already possess a baccalaureate degree, and Grand Valley students pursuing degrees in other related areas of study. These students must also meet the prerequisites and be admitted to the program before beginning the professional phase of their studies. 1 of 5
  2. 2. Physician Assistant Studies Telephone: (616) 331-3356 Email: The professional curriculum admits students only in the fall of each calendar year. The Physician Assistant Studies curriculum is divided into four semesters of primarily didactic instruction and four semesters of clinical rotations in which students are assigned to a physician assistant, physician, clinic, or medical center for periods of four to eight weeks to concentrate on a clinical discipline. Clinical education is also integrated into the didactic semesters and didactic information is presented during the clinical component of students’ professional education. Application Procedures Admission to the Physician Assistant Studies Program is highly competitive. To be considered, applicants must complete a Grand Valley State University graduate application and must be in the process of completing all of their preprofessional and undergraduate degree requirements. Current undergraduates typically apply during their junior year. Students transferring from community or four-year colleges must complete a Grand Valley State University undergraduate application. We strongly encourage students to transfer to Grand Valley by the beginning of their junior year to ensure completion of their undergraduate degree and preprofessional requirements. Transfer students should consult with an advisor from the Physician Assistant Studies Program before entering Grand Valley or very soon thereafter, in addition to their undergraduate advisors. Students who have completed or are near completion of a Bachelor of Science degree fall into one of two categories: • Those who have not completed all the preprofessional courses but intend to complete them at Grand Valley before applying to the Physician Assistant Program must submit an undergraduate application. • Those who have completed preprofessional coursework must complete a graduate application. Students should meet with a member of the Physician Assistant Studies Program faculty and their assigned undergraduate advisor for advising and assistance in developing course schedules for the preprofessional program. Potential applicants are encouraged to go through the College of Health Professions Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences Dean’s Office to obtain an appointment for a pre-admission counseling session. Applications to the program may be obtained by calling the Physician Assistant Studies Program office at (616) 331-3356. The completed application and supplementary materials must be received by the Admissions Office before January 15 of the calendar year prior to the year in which the student wishes to begin the professional program. All preprofessional requirements must be completed by the start of the professional phase of the curriculum unless the rare extension has been granted by the chair of the PAS program. Professional Program Admission Criteria Admission to the Physician Assistant Studies Program is competitive. Among the criteria for admission are 1. Academic achievement — the student must demonstrate satisfactory completion of all prerequisite coursework by attaining a minimum grade of “C”. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 overall in post- secondary coursework and in the last 60 hours of coursework is required. 2. Two formal letters of recommendation must be submitted on university forms — preferably from health professionals. We recommend that at least one letter be from a practicing physician assistant. 3. Satisfactory performance in group and individual interview sessions with the admissions committee and other experienced interviewers. 4. Completion of an essay during the interview process, should one be granted, that demonstrates composition ability, proper grammar, and creative thinking. 5. Completion of a minimum of 250+ hours of volunteer, employment, or direct observational medical care experience. Hands-on patient care is preferred for this experience component. 2 of 5
  3. 3. Physician Assistant Studies Telephone: (616) 331-3356 Email: The rare student who feels they have unusual circumstances that impact their ability to meet the above criteria must appeal in writing to the admissions committee as a whole asking for a decision in their case. Students are accepted for fall entrance only. The admissions committee for the program will begin to review completed applications and grant interviews beginning in January of the year preceding the applicants anticipated matriculation into the curriculum. The committee will continue to review completed applications and interviewing through February. Positions in the program will be offered to certain applicants the committee deems exceptional candidates beginning in late February of the year of matriculation. All applicants will be notified of Admission Committee’s decision no later than March 30. Grand Valley State University’s Physician Assistant Studies Program is accredited through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), the accrediting body for all physician assistant programs. The program is also recognized by the Association of Physician Assistants Program as a member program. Selection Factors Applicants are considered without regard to age, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, political beliefs, disability, or sexual orientation. Motivational factors, life experiences, patient care experience, maturity, and personal characteristics are assessed in personal and group interviews and are considered important factors in the selection process. An applicant’s academic record is an important indicator of ability to succeed in an intensive and rigorous medical program. Applicants must meet certain health and technical standards that demonstrate their capacity to function as a physician assistant. Copies of these standards may be obtained from the program and are listed on the program’s Web page at Criminal background checks may be required prior to enrollment in to the PA Studies program. The cost of this evaluation may be the responsibility of the applicant. Degree Requirements Students must complete the 109 credits in the professional curriculum to receive the M.P.A.S. degree. General graduate academic policies and regulations are in the Grand Valley State University Graduate Bulletin. In addition, for each course or each module of a course identified by the program faculty as a discrete unit of instruction in the professional curriculum, a minimum proficiency level of 80 percent on all evaluations as described in course syllabus is required. The program also subscribes to a policy of continual advancement during the course of professional study in a compilation of generic abilities. Such abilities as interpersonal skills, communication skills, responsibility, and professionalism are identified as crucial for success in the profession. The development of such skills and behaviors is expected during the professional curriculum. A complete copy of these generic abilities is available from the program and may also be viewed on the program’s Web page. All students in the program are expected to comply with the ethical principles that embody the practice of medicine and the physician assistant profession. Documented evidence to the contrary may result in a student’s removal from the professional curriculum of study. Preprofessional Level Course Requirements One course in introductory biology. One course in human genetics. One course in introductory chemistry. One course in introductory organic chemistry. One course in biological chemistry. * One course in human anatomy (including cadaver laboratory). * One course in human physiology (including laboratory). One course in statistics. One course in introductory psychology. One course in introductory microbiology (including laboratory). One course in physics. One course in medical ethics. 3 of 5
  4. 4. Physician Assistant Studies Telephone: (616) 331-3356 Email: One course in clinical nutrition. One course in basic pathophysiology. * One course in introductory pharmacology. * One course in sociology. One course in introductory health care research. One course in medical terminology. * These courses must have been completed within the last five years or be retaken. Applicants may also take higher-level courses or competency examinations for credit. Waivers of the five-year rule may be granted on a case-by-case basis for candidates with documented academic excellence and appropriate clinical experience. Professional Level Curriculum First Professional Year Fall — Semester One HS 340 Health Care Management 2 HS 410 Immunology 3 HS 427 Neuroanatomy 1 HS 461 Regional Human Anatomy 4 PAS 451 Physician Assistant Seminar I 1 PAS 501 Patient Evaluation I 2 HPR 510 Introduction to Health Professions Research 1 ___ 14 Winter — Semester Two HS 412 The Pathology of Aging 3 HS 475 Medical Bacteriology 3 HS 528 Neuropathology 3 PAS 452 Physician Assistant Seminar II 1 PAS 500 Clinical Medicine I 3 PAS 502 Patient Evaluation II 2 HPR 610 Research in Health Professions 2 ___ 17 Spring/Summer — Semester Three NUR 620 Clinical Pharmacology 3 PAS 453 Physician Assistant Seminar III 1 PAS 505 Clinical Medicine II 6 One of the following courses as assigned by faculty: HPR 688 Health Professions Research I 3 or STA 610 Applied Statistics for Health Professions 3 ___ 13 4 of 5
  5. 5. Physician Assistant Studies Telephone: (616) 331-3356 Email: Second Professional Year Fall — Semester Four HS 523 Epidemiology 2 PAS 454 Physician Assistant Seminar IV 1 PAS 510 Clinical Pathophysiology 3 PAS 511 Clinical Laboratory Medicine 1 PAS 514 Clinical Modality Skills 2 PAS 515 Clinical Medicine III 4 HPR 688 Health Professions Research I 1 ___ 14 Final Four Semesters — Clinical Rotation/Research PAS 610 Clinical Rotations I 12 PAS 620 Clinical Rotations II 12 PAS 630 Clinical Rotations III 12 PAS 640 Clinical Practicum 12 HPR 689 Health Professions Research II 3 ___ 51 Total Professional Credits 109 For More Information For additional information on the Physician Assistant Studies Program at Grand Valley State University, contact College of Health Professions Physician Assistant Studies Program Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences Grand Valley State University 301 Michigan NE Grand Rapids, MI 49503 Telephone: (616) 331-3356 Fax: (616) 331-3350 Email: Web: or Admissions Office Grand Valley State University 1 Campus Drive Allendale, MI 49401-9989 Telephone: (616) 331-2025 or (800) 748-0246 Email: Web: Grand Valley State University is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution. It encourages diversity and provides equal opportunity in education, employment, all of its programs, and the use of its facilities. It is committed to protecting the constitutional and statutory civil rights of persons connected with the university. 9/04. 5 of 5