Program Description

Overview

The Pfeiffer University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MS-PAS) program is a 27-month continuous residential program; committed to creating an academic experience known for its excellence in PA education, scholarly activity and servant leadership in the areas of health disparities and social equity. 

The Pfeiffer University MS-PAS program will have a strong emphasis on the unequal distribution of health, illness, disease, suffering, and death by social status, where social status includes race/ethnicity, sex/gender, socioeconomic status, geographical region, and other factors locally, nationally and globally. Students will receive instruction in health policy, advocacy and community intervention best practices aimed at reducing health disparities.

The students will participate in collaborative service learning experiences through community initiatives such as interdisciplinary community service, where students identify a specific healthcare disparity within the community and then design and implement a self-sustaining program that addresses the disparity and empowers the community. Through these initiatives, the students will gain real-life experience in culturally competent healthcare for the underserved.

Students will be evaluated and expected to meet the highest standards of competency in the six areas of Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession: Medical Knowledge, Interpersonal and Communication Skills, Patient Care, Professionalism, Practice-Based Learning, and Implementation and System-Based Practice throughout both the didactic and clinical phases of the program. Students will be evaluated using a variety of assessment tools such as multiple choice questions, verbal and written case presentations, simulation activities, objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs), short essays, reflection journals, research projects, and clinical preceptor evaluations. 

Upon successful completion of all curricular elements of the program, the student will be awarded a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.

  • Didactic Phase

    The program begins with a 15 month rigorous didactic phase which includes robust instruction in anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, pharmacotherapeutics, clinical laboratory and diagnostic studies, physical diagnosis, clinical medicine, behavioral medicine, community medicine, clinical research design, medical writing, evidence-based medicine, legal and ethical issues in medicine, and cultural issues in medicine.   Instruction in professionalism, patient safety, and advocacy are interwoven throughout the curriculum. The program will provide instruction through creative and innovative active learning strategies, such as interdisciplinary team-based and simulation learning, on the four core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice: Values/Ethics for Interprofessional Practice, Roles/Responsibilities, Interprofessional Communication, Teams, and Teamwork. The students will participate in interprofessional experiences alongside nursing, health and exercise science, occupational therapy, marriage, and family therapy, and health administration students.

  • Clinical Phase

    The didactic phase is followed by a 12-month clinical phase where the students will engage in over 2,100 hours of supervised clinical practice experience (SCPEs). Students will participate in eight core SCPEs: Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Prenatal Care and Women’s Health, Surgery, Emergency Medicine Behavioral, and Mental Health, Orthopedics and one elective SCPEs (all SCPEs are five weeks long.

    At the end of each SCPE, the students return to the main campus and participate in a two-day Clinical Seminar. Clinical Seminar activities include an end of SCPE examination, OSCE, focused NCCPA board review with case discussions, an NCCPA-type practice exam, and round table discussions on topics regarding PA practice.

  • Graduate Research Project

    A graduate research project is a requirement for graduation. The students may choose one of two options for the graduate research project. The first option is a three-part individual graduate research project which entails a written case report, a literature review related to the case report, and an oral presentation of the case and key findings of the literature review. The second option is a collaborative graduate research project where a small group of students (three students maximum) identifies a health disparity in a specific community, conduct a literature review on the subject matter and then design and implement a community health initiative. The report (written and oral presentation) includes a literature review and a description of the project and its outcomes. 

  • Scholarly Concentrations

    In response to the critical need of health care providers in the areas of Behavioral and Mental Health and Rural Medicine, the Pfeiffer University MS-PAS program is offering Scholarly Concentrations in Behavioral and Mental Health and Rural Medicine. The Scholarly Concentrations are offered during the clinical phase of the program; and will not extend the duration of the program. 

    Behavioral and Mental Health 
    Focusing on application and integration of clinical concepts in behavioral and mental health cases; the scholarly concentration will build on the knowledge acquired during the didactic phase of the program. It will provide in-depth content about the epidemiology, evaluation and diagnosis, clinical neuroscience including psychiatric genetics, psychopharmacology, psychotherapies, age issues, gender issues, culture issues (e.g., religion and spirituality), comorbidity, risk issues—medical/legal risk management of simple and complex chronic and acute behavioral and mental disorders across the lifespan. 

    The Scholarly Concentration in Behavioral and Mental Health will explore topics in:

    • Integration of Behavioral and Mental Health in Primary Care
    • Child and Adolescent Behavioral and Mental Health
    • Adult Behavioral and Mental Health
    • Addiction Medicine
    • Mental Health Policy and Advocacy

     

    Rural Medicine
    Focusing on application and integration of clinical concepts in family and internal medicine, the scholarly concentration will build on the knowledge acquired during the didactic phase of the program. It will provide in-depth content about the epidemiology, evaluation and diagnosis, clinical medicine including genetics, pharmacology, age issues, gender issues, culture issues (e.g., religion and spirituality), comorbidity, risk issues—medical/legal risk management of simple and complex chronic and acute disorders across the lifespan from a Rural Medicine point of view. 

    The Scholarly Concentration in Rural Medicine will explore topics in:

    • Integration of Clinical Concepts in Rural Health Practice
    • Advanced Clinical Skills in Rural Health Practice
    • Rural Health Policy and Advocacy
    • Administration and Management of a Rural Health Practice