Physician assistants, or PAs, work on medical teams with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. They may diagnose illnesses, prescribe medications, and order various diagnostic tests. Particularly in underserved communities, PAs are in great demand. Read on to learn more about the educational requirements to become a physician assistant, and about programs in New York State to consider.
Physician Assistant Program Requirements
Physician assistant programs provide graduate students with the requisite skills and clinical experiences to become entry-level physician assistants. Students typically complete their training with a Master of Science (M.S.) in Physician Assistant Studies, which takes two and a half years of full-time study to earn.
Application to these programs is generally made through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Before applying, students should hold a bachelor's degree. Prospective students should also ensure that they have met the prerequisites, which include biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, statistics, and other upper-level science requirements. Most programs will require direct paid or volunteer patient care experience between 50 and 500 hours, in addition to observation experience with a practicing physician assistant. Students should plan to submit undergraduate transcripts documenting an overall GPA of at least a 3.0-3.2 and science GPA of at least 3.0-3.2, as well as recommendations and a personal statement. Some programs may require submission of GRE scores.
In the M.S. program, students must complete the requisite coursework as well as taking part in clinical rotations to obtain practical skills. Some courses that candidates might expect to take during their M.S. program include the following:
In this course, students learn about modern medicines. Students review a range of drugs for a range of bodily systems, including the cardiovascular system and gastrointestinal system. They gain an understanding of how the medicines work and possible adverse reactions.
Students taking this course focus on how to conduct a physical examination and medical interview for patients. The ordering of diagnostic tests, such as lab studies and radiology, will also be covered. A lab may be included to practice the concepts learned.
In this course, students will learn about evidence-based medicine, including statistics and research methodology. The ethical standards to which scientists must adhere when conducting research will be discussed. Students will also learn about medical literature and writing.
Prospective physician assistants will learn about preventing diseases during this course. Topics such as immunizations and public health will be covered. Students may learn about national and global issues of concern with regard to public health.
Pediatrics Supervised Practice
Students will participate in a pediatrics clinical rotation. They will work in an outpatient or inpatient setting directly with newborns, children, and adolescents, and they will learn about the evaluation of common pediatric illnesses.
Physician Assistant Programs in New York
Hofstra University, in Hempstead, offers the M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies. The program at Hofstra is an integrated program where students will learn about different components of medicine around the same bodily system; for example, they might learn about cardiological medications in pharmacology while performing cardiac examinations in their course on diagnosis. Hofstra focuses on multisensory approaches to education, incorporating lectures, simulations, and the use of standardized patients. Students must complete approximately 2,000 hours of clinical training and complete a research semester, which culminates in a thesis and poster presentation. Hofstra also offers a direct entry B.S./M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies for undergraduates to wish to matriculate directly into a dual bachelor's degree/physician assistant program as a first-year undergraduate.
Students can earn the M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry. The program focuses upon a biopsychosocial model of primary care in its medical education. Students obtain hands-on experience in a 12,000-square-foot simulation lab on campus, as well as on international medical missions. Students complete a clinical year of nine six-week rotations and two three-week rotations.
Upstate Medical University
Upstate Medical University in Syracuse is a division of the State University of New York (SUNY), and it's primarily an upper level transfer/graduate university focused on students pursuing health care careers. The Physician Assistant program at Upstate Medical University is focused upon training physician assistants to work in rural settings in upstate and central New York, specifically in areas designated as medically underserved communities. In light of this mission, the clinical year of training requires students to live and practice in an underserved community within New York.
York College is a division of the City University of New York (CUNY), located in Jamaica, New York. The Physician Assistant program focuses on training medical professionals to meet the diverse needs found in New York City urban communities. The program begins with classroom-based, didactic training and then moves students into clinical opportunities. A comprehensive examination is given at the end of the program.
Clarkson University in Potsdam seeks to develop patient-centered physician assistants. Courses promote students to become self-directed learners who have the knowledge and skills to practice as a physician assistant in any setting. Some of the clinical rotations include ambulatory medicine, general surgery, pediatrics, women's health and behavioral health. The program culminates in a master's project.
Physician assistants are healthcare professionals with advanced training, and they typically hold a master's degree. Programs located in New York State provide prospective PAs many opportunities to pursue this field.