Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies
College of Health Sciences and Education
Department Chair and Program Director Jack Goble, MHA, PA-C
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) is the accrediting agency that protects the interests of the public and PA profession by defining the standards for PA education and evaluating PA educational programs within the territorial United States to ensure their compliance with those standards.
The following statement is provided by ARC-PA:
“Misericordia University has applied for Accreditation - Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Misericordia University anticipates matriculating its first class in July 2018, pending achieving Accreditation - Provisional status at the March 2018 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. The Misericordia University’s Physician Assistant Studies Program will not commence in the event that provisional accreditation is not received.”
Department Chair and Program Director: Jack A. Goble, Jr., MHA, PA-C; Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies; BS University of Maryland; MHA The Pennsylvania State University
Medical Director: Stanley J. Dudrick, Professor, BS Franklin and Marshall College, MD University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Didactic Director: Erin Burns Kilduff, Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies, BS Marywood University; MSPAS Kings College
Clinical Director: Lindsey Vigilante, Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies, BS, MSPAS Marywood University
Principal Faculty Member: Amy Wierbowski, Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies, BFA, MFA, MSPAS Marywood University
The Misericordia University Physician Assistant Program is an intensive 25-month, year-round program designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree and meet the PA Program’s entrance requirements. Students who successfully complete the PA Program are awarded a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree.
The first (or didactic) year, is comprised of basic medical and clinical sciences that prepare students to enter the clinical year. During the clinical year, students must successfully complete eight six-week clinical clerkships, covering a variety of clinical experiences that occur within different health care delivery organizations throughout Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
Working directly with licensed clinical preceptors, students learn to evaluate and treat patients who seek care for preventive, acute, chronic, and emergent conditions. The supervised clinical experiences occur in the following settings: emergency departments; family medicine, internal medicine and pediatric practices; facilities that deliver obstetrical and gynecologic care; hospitals and facilities that provide surgical care; and behavioral medicine facilities.
After successful completion of all didactic and clinical experience courses, students complete a final course in which they develop a master’s project (capstone) and prepare for completion of The Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).
Delivered in on-campus classrooms and laboratories, as well as off-campus supervised clinical settings, the new curriculum is aligned with evidence based medical practice and current medical technology, providing students an integrated learning experience.
“The Misericordia University Physician Assistant Program strives to attract intellectually talented and caring students who will be educationally transformed and mentored to become competent and compassionate Physician Assistants.”
Expectations of Graduates
Each student who successfully completes the Misericordia University Physician Assistant Program is expected to possess the following skills, characteristics and attributes. The expectations have been developed to align with professional standards put forth by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
- Demonstrate the biomedical knowledge required to care for patients seeking services for preventive, emergent, acute, and chronic healthcare during any stage in a patient’s lifespan.
- Demonstrate an ability to elicit an appropriate and essential medical history from any patient, as based upon presenting complaint, co-morbid conditions, age, gender, race and socio-economic position.
- Demonstrate the psychomotor skills necessary to complete a full or problem focused physical examination, as may be required in preventive, emergent, acute, or chronic care settings.
- Demonstrate the ability to gather and analyze patient care data effectively, leading to the development of differential diagnoses and effective clinical decision making.
- Demonstrate the ability to develop appropriate and complete diagnostic evaluations.
- Demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to develop treatment management plans for patients seeking care in preventive, emergent, acute, and chronic care settings.
- Demonstrate communication skills that support the delivery of sound patient education to diverse populations in such a manner that facilitates patient understanding.
- Possess the skills necessary to develop and maintain medical records that will support inter-professional communication and minimize errors in care delivery.
- Provide clinical procedures and testing in a safe and competent manner, as may be required in preventive, emergent, acute, and chronic care settings.
- Apply evidenced based medicine concepts in an effort to improve patient outcomes and patient understanding of the care that they receive.
- Adhere to the “Guidelines for Ethical Conduct for the Physician Assistant Profession”, established by the American Academy of Physician Assistants. (www.aapa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/16-EthicalConduct.pdf)
Technical Standards for Admission & Successful Academic Progression
The following are required of all individuals who seek entry into and for successful progression through the Misericordia University Physician Assistant Program. As such, candidates and students must meet the following Technical Standards:
The Physician Assistant student must possess the following physical capacities, with or without accommodations:
Adequate functioning of the senses of vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Each candidate’s and student’s senses must be keen enough to allow for gathering, integrating and analyzing data obtained during physical examinations, and in a consistent and reproducible manner. Additionally, candidates and students must possess the ability to feel temperature differences, pain, pressure, vibration and movement. The ability to gather and analyze such information must be accurate when compared to accepted physical examination standards, and physical findings confirmed by experienced clinicians. Finally, sufficient emotional health and stability is required for exercising good judgment and promptly completing all academic and patient care responsibilities.
Perform Motor Tasks
Students must possess sufficient fine and gross motor control to effectively conduct inspection, palpation, percussion, and auscultation activities, all of which are required to complete a physical examination. Additionally, all students must possess stable equilibrium, postural control, good motor function, and sound eye – hand coordination, as is necessary to for satisfactory performance in patient care and classroom or laboratory settings, including handling surgical instruments and providing routine and emergent medical procedures. Students must also possess sufficient mental and physical stamina to meet the demands associated with extended periods of sitting, standing, moving, lifting, and physical exertion required for satisfactory performance in patient care, clinical education, and classroom or laboratory settings.
The Physician Assistant student must possess the following cognitive capacity, without accommodations:
Communicate effectively and sensitively with persons of any cultural and social background using appropriate verbal, nonverbal, and written communication skills with faculty, peers, other members of the health care team, and patients/clients/caregivers. Read, write, and interpret written and nonverbal communication in a timely manner at a competency level that allows one to safely function in the academic or clinical setting. Answer calls, make calls, and communicate needs on a telephone.
Maintain a safe environment for students, faculty, patients, and colleagues. Recognize and respond appropriately and in a timely manner to a medical emergency.
Students must be able to accurately observe, through vision, hearing, and smell, a patient’s physical and emotional condition, as a means to differentiate between states of good health, acute illness or injury, and chronic illness.
Receive, remember, analyze, interpret, evaluate, and synthesize information from multiple sources, in a timely fashion. Attend to multiple tasks throughout the day of scheduled classes and clinical education experiences. Organize and prioritize information to make safe, appropriate, and timely decisions regarding patients for the purpose of further examination, intervention, or referral. Problem solve, recognize deviations from a norm, formulate evaluations, and derive clinical judgments from information collected, in a timely fashion. Observe and accurately interpret patient responses and adjust examination and/or intervention as indicated by the patient response.
Demonstrate Professional and Social Behavior
Students must demonstrate the emotional health and stability that is required to persevere in spite of longs hours of classroom instruction, challenging laboratory settings, unsettling patient care experiences, differences of opinion with peers and instructors, and personal sacrifice. They must demonstrate the flexibility and personal resolve that is necessary to endure long hours of physical and intellectual stress, without demonstration of adverse behavior. Work with multiple patients/families and colleagues at the same time. Work with lab partners, patients, families, and others under stressful conditions, including but not limited to medically or emotionally unstable individuals, situations requiring rapid adaptations, the provision of CPR, or other emergency interventions. Organize and prioritize multiple tasks, integrate information, and make decisions. Adhere to the “Guidelines for Ethical Conduct for the Physician Assistant Profession”, established by the American Academy of Physician Assistants, which may be found at https://www.aapa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/16-EthicalConduct.pdf.
Note – Applicants & Students with Disabilities: In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, Misericordia University strives to ensure that “no otherwise qualified” individual with a disability shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program administered by the University. (Please refer to the following web site for additional information: http://www.misericordia.edu/page.cfm?p=693).
Additional requirements relevant to specific components of the Physician Assistant Program
In addition to the standards above, students entering the Physician Assistant Program must consider that they will be required to:
- Participate in patient assessment and evaluation.
- Participate in invasive and non-invasive procedures
- Participate in emergency care
- Work lengthy and irregular hours (which may include nights, weekends and holidays)
- Attend and participated in didactic and clinical education training on or off campus.
- Perform physical examinations on male and female peers along with being examined by both male and female peers during laboratory instruction. (Special accommodations will be made during physical examination practice of peers for modesty or religious requirements.)
(Note: Participation will not require any student to submit to a genital or rectal examination. However, all students are required to learn and perform such examinations, during didactic training activities and clinical experiences.)
The following requirements apply to each applicant who is seeking to gain entry into the Misericordia University Physician Assistant Program. Please carefully review all information that is presented in this section to guide you in determining your eligibility for admission. The requirements are non-negotiable.
All applicants should understand that the Misericordia University Physician Assistant Program will adhere to a rolling-admission process. This means that an applicant who submits an application early during the allowed submission time period and who holds a completed bachelor’s degree, who has met all minimum requirements to qualify for an interview, and who has a successful interview will be offered acceptance into the MU PA Program. Applications will be reviewed until all seats (as allowed by ARC PA accreditation requirements) have been offered and accepted. Thereafter, no additional applications will be reviewed.
(The Misericordia University Physician Assistant Program is requesting an entering cohort size of 20 students, which are anticipated to begin in July 2018, pending ARC PA approval during its March 2018 commissioners meeting.)
Requirement 1: (Applicants May Satisfy the Requirement for a Completed Degree by Either of the Following Two Mechanisms)
- Completion of a baccalaureate degree or graduate degree (from a regionally accredited college or university). The degree must be fully completed. Applicants who have not completed their degree are not eligible for admission. Applicants who have completed their undergraduate degree (or graduate degree) within the United States must present an official transcript which demonstrates a specific and distinct grade for each course and an overall GPA. (If a grade is listed as Pass / Fail, a “Pass” will be considered it as equivalent to a “C” and a “Fail” will be considered an “F”).
- Applicants who intend to use foreign educational experiences and degrees (those obtained outside of the United States), must have their higher education record, including all course work and completed degree(s), evaluated by an organization accredited and licensed to do so. In addition, the evaluation of any foreign transcript(s) must result in verification of the equivalent of a fully completed bachelor’s degree, or higher, as compared to United States educational system standards. Each course that is evaluated must also be assigned a specific grade. (If a grade is listed as Pass / Fail, a “Pass” will be considered as equivalent to a “C” and a “Fail” will be considered an “F”).Applicants who have not completed a bachelor’s degree or higher level degree from a regionally accredited college or university within the United States must complete a TOEFL evaluation. To be eligible for entry into the PA program, such applicants must attain a minimum score of 20 in each TOEFL category (Reading / Listening / Speaking / Writing). Please refer to the following web site for more information regarding TOEFL: https://www.ets.org/toefl
- “Holistic” or qualitative transcripts (those without grades assigned to each course and / or without an overall GPA) will be considered as invalid for the purpose of acceptance into the Misericordia University PA Program.
Additional Information for All Applicants:
- Applicants who have completed a bachelor’s degree from any regionally accredited college or university are encouraged to apply. The MU PA Program does not require an applicant to hold an undergraduate degree from Misericordia University to be eligible for admission. Each application that is evaluated will be reviewed in an equitable and unbiased manner, utilizing the PA program evaluation tools that will utilized to evaluate all applications.
- Applicants who have completed a bachelor or master’s degree through Misericordia University or who hold United States military veteran or active duty status will be advantaged in the scoring of their initial application materials by an automatic addition of a specified number of points. As a result, Misericordia University graduates who apply to the PA Program will have an increased chance of being offered an interview. However, the outcomes of the interview and overall final assessment of each applicant will determine if that individual is a “right-fit” candidate for the MU PA Program. An individual applicant will receive this advantage for being an MU graduate or for military veteran or active duty status, but not for both. This advantage equates to approximately a 5% increase in the academic (pre-interview) score.
- Applicants who reside in one of the following northeastern Pennsylvania counties will be advantaged in the scoring of their application materials, if they meet the minimum academic requirements first:
This advantage equates to approximately a 4% increase in the total (pre-interview) score.
- Applicants who have graduated from Misericordia University, who also live in one of the northeastern Pennsylvania counties identified above, may be eligible to receive both of the advantages previously described. In total, these advantages combined would equate to approximately a 9% increase in the total (pre-interview) score.
Requirement 2: Academic Requirements (minimums)
- Overall GPA = 3.2 (Scoring will be assigned on a graduated scale; higher overall GPAs will receive higher scores.) (NOTE: We do not impose an age limit for the completed degree that will be submitted with the application.)
- Undergraduate Science GPA = 3.2 (This will include all undergraduate science courses completed by an applicant. Scoring will be assigned on a graduated scale; higher Science GPAs will receive higher scores. The determination of the Science GPA will include all undergraduate science courses completed by an applicant, including courses that are being repeated for grade improvement.)
- Prerequisite Courses = each course will have an individual score, based upon the grade received. All courses, including medical terminology, must have an associated grade. Pass / fail grading will not be accepted. Grades less than a “B” are not acceptable and will result in an applicant being disqualified for that application cycle. Applicants may repeat prerequisite courses for grade improvement. However, all grades for science courses, whether a course is repeated or taken once, will be included in the calculation for the undergraduate science GPA. (NOTE: All prerequisite courses must have been completed within the last 10 years. Any course that is older than 10 years will not satisfy our requirement for that prerequisite.)
Required Prerequisite Courses are as follows:
- A&P I (w/ lab – 4 credits)
- A&P II (w/ lab – 4 credits)
- Microbiology (w/ lab – 3 credits)
- Biochemistry (no lab - 3 credits)
- Genetics (3 or 4 credits)
- Statistics (3 or 4 credits)
- Med Term (1- 3 credits)
Requirement 3: Completion of a minimum of 500 hours of (acceptable) patient care experience
All patient care experience must be logged and substantiated using the Misericordia University Department of Physician Assistant Studies “DOCUMENTATION of DIRECT PATIENT CARE EXPERIENCE FORM”.
Applicants are encouraged to carefully review and follow the instructions associated with this form. All completed DOCUMENTATION of DIRECT PATIENT CARE EXPERIENCE FORMs must be upload through CASPA and included with your CASPA application. Other means of documenting patient care experience will not be accepted.
Requirement 4: Personal Statement
A biographical sketch in which the applicant clearly and concisely describes his or her motivation for wanting to become a PA, their understanding of the PA role, and why they have chosen to apply to the MU PA Program. (Upload through CASPA, should be limited to 500 words, or less.)
Requirement 5: Recommendations
Two to three letters of recommendation, with at least one, or more, letters being provided by a Physician Assistant. At least one recommendation should be from another licensed healthcare provider.
Requirement 6: Supplemental Application
If, after review and scoring of all (pre-interview) requirements, an applicant is determined to be eligible for an interview, he or she will be notified of the need to complete a supplemental application, prior to being assigned an interview appointment.
Requirement 7: Interview
Applicants who successfully complete all steps in the supplemental application process, and do so within the designated period of time, will be offered an interview. Applicants who are offered an interview must be present on their assigned interview day. If not, an offer for an interview may be withdrawn.
Requirement 8: Acceptance
Each applicant who achieves a (quantitative) interview score that meets MU PA Program standards for admission will be contacted within a reasonable period of time, via e-mail, with an offer of acceptance into the PA program. (Next steps, deposits required to hold a seat, and additional information needed from the applicant will be provided after acceptance.)
Requirement 9: University Admissions Requirements
All students who matriculate into Misericordia University Graduate Programs must meet and comply with the MU requirements for admission into graduate programs. These requirements may be found in the MU Graduate Catalogue, in the section regarding “Admissions Requirements ” for graduate programs. Please use the following web address to access this information: http://catalog.misericordia.edu/5696.htm
Policy Regarding Advanced Standing
The Misericordia University Physician Assistant Program does not grant advanced placement to anyone. Advanced standing or special consideration for previous coursework or degrees are not provided. All applicants will be evaluated and assessed through the same application and interview processes.