Starting Fall 2018 the Physician Assistant Studies (PA) degree at Penn College will be a combined Bachelor/Master of Science degree. In this 3+2 program, students will complete the pre-professional phase over the course of the first three years, and the professional phase the last two years. After five years, successful students will graduate with a combined BS/MS Physician Assistant Studies degree.
Students entering the program for Fall 2017 or Spring 2018 may choose to pursue a four-year bachelor of science degree, or the combined Bachelor/Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.
Program highlights include:
State-of-the-art. Gain hands-on experience in state-of-the-art labs, including the on-site cadaver lab with a 5:1 student to cadaver ratio.
100%. Historically, Penn College physician assistant graduates have earned 100% job placement within the first six months.
Intensive learning. Clinical rotations are designed to give students extensive experience outside of the classroom. Rotations includes: family practice, pediatrics, psychiatry, emergency medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, surgery and elective.
Board-certified faculty. Learn from experienced and knowledgeable faculty who incorporate the latest technologies and practices into the curriculum.
93% pass rate. Penn College first-time test takers achieved a 93% pass rate on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).
Small class sizes. This guarantees that students receive individualized attention and more hands-on time in labs. Penn College is proud to offer a 10:1 lab ratio and a 1:1 clinical rotation ratio.
About Physician Assistants
Physician assistants (PAs) are health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. The clinical role of physician assistants includes primary and specialty care in medical and surgical settings in rural and urban areas. Students will learn to work successfully in the health care environment, provide treatment for patients, problem solve, and value their professionalism.
The role of the physician assistant demands intelligence, sound judgment, intellectual honesty, appropriate interpersonal skills and the capacity to react to emergencies in a calm and reasoned manner. An attitude of respect for others, adherence to the concepts of privilege and confidentiality in communicating with patients, and a commitment to the patient's welfare are essential attributes. Individuals who can meet those requirements and become physician assistants will be able to provide the following services:
- Patient Education
About the curriculum
View the classes you will be attending in the College Catalog.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for physician assistants during the time frame of 2014-2024 is projected to increase by 30% (much faster than the average of 7% growth rate for all occupations). Physician assistant was added to the high priority occupations in Pennsylvania and by the Central Workforce Investment Board in 2015. Pennsylvania is listed as one of the states with the highest number of employed physician assistants. Certified physician assistants (PA-C) are employed in a variety of settings nationwide, including (but not limited to): family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, gastroenterology, plastic surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, oncology and hematology, emergency medicine, orthopedic surgery, general surgery, cardiovascular surgery, correctional medicine, urology, and pediatrics.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for physician assistants was $101,480 in May 2016. The top 10 percent earned more than $142,210.
Industries with the highest published employment for this occupation are:
|Industry||Employment||Hourly mean wage||Annual mean wage|
|Offices of Physicians||59,680||$48.83||$101,560|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||23,460||$49.79||$103,570|
|Outpatient Care Centers||8,060||$51.80||$107,740|
|Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools||2,770||$47.09||$97,940|
Statistics reported in May 2016
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARCPA) has granted Accreditation - Continued to the Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Pennsylvania College of Technology. Continued accreditation is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.
Continued Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be September 2017.
- View the Physician Assistant program goals.
NCCPA Pass Rates
The NCCPA 5-year pass rate summary compares the pass rate of Penn College first time takers (PANCE) to the national average. Read More
Special Admissions Requirements
First-year (freshman only) Conditional Acceptance Admissions
First year (freshman) students desiring entrance into the Bachelor/Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies must first gain admission to the College, and satisfy tuition deposit and placement test requirements. First-year (freshman) students at Penn College will be offered conditionally reserved seats in the combined degree if they have a minimum ACT score at/or above 23 or SAT scores at/or above 570 in math, and 560 in critical reading. Those who receive conditionally reserved seats as first-year (freshman) students must maintain both a Penn College graduation GPA and math/science GPA of 3.4, without any withdraw ("W"), "D," or "F" grades. Student progress is reviewed at the completion of each semester. Students who fail to meet the GPA conditions will relinquish their seats and be placed into the pre-major and be subject to the Physician Assistant Studies Competitive Admissions Process.
Physician Assistant Studies Competitive Admissions Process
Prior to the start of the BS+MS program's didactic course work each fall, students in the pre-PA curriculum and eligible transfers compete twice a year (1st selection – following the fall semester; 2nd selection – following the spring semester) for a seat based on the Physician Assistant Studies Admission Ranking System. Note that required pre-professional math and science course grade calculations must be a 3.0 or higher, and grades in ENL 111, ENL 121, (or ENL 201), CSC 124 and PSY 111 must be at or above a grade of "C."
Transfer students who want to be considered for the 1st selection must submit their application and all official transcripts to the Penn College Admissions Office by January 10 prior to the fall semester in which they seek admission into the major. To be considered for the 2nd selection, transfer students must submit all transcripts by June 10 prior to the fall semester in which they seek admissions into the major.
Additionally, by January 10 (for the 1st selection) and June 10 (for the 2nd selection) prior to the fall semester in which they seek admissions into the major, all students must document via the electronic logging system, a minimum of 300 hours of health care exposure, including a minimum of 16 hours with a practicing PA-C. Current students can access this system with their Penn College ID and password. Transfer students must first be accepted to Penn College and satisfy the tuition deposit and placement testing requirements to access to the system.
Transfer students holding a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution who have completed all pre-professional requirements may be eligible for selection into the two-year combined BS/MS degree. All official transcripts must be submitted to Penn College along with the Application for Admission. For transfer students who are selected, their entire bachelor’s degree will be accepted as transfer and the student will receive a combined Bachelor/Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree upon successful completion of the didactic and clinical years.
Transfer applicants without a prior degree may apply and submit official transcripts to Penn College for evaluation to determine if they meet all of the pre-professional course work requirements. If they do, they will be deemed eligible for possible selection into the two-year combined BS/MS degree. Otherwise, they will be placed into the Pre-Combined Bachelor/Master degree.
Transfer applicants who do not meet all pre-professional requirements will be placed in the pre-major to complete outstanding requirements and will be subject to the Physician Assistant Studies Admission Ranking System upon eligibility.
Once accepted into the professional phase of the program, students must take all courses in the major (PHA coded courses) at Penn College in the sequence as prescribed. No prior physician assistant program course work from another institution will be accepted for transfer to meet any physician assistant didactic or clinical-year requirements.
International health credentials/licensure, science courses, and most math courses will not be accepted to satisfy requirements of this major. Please see additional information for international students applying to Health Sciences majors.
Estimate of Expenses
Special Equipment Needs
Students accepted into the Physician Assistant major will incur expenses for tools/instruments, uniforms, malpractice insurance, clearances and certifications, etc. See the complete list.
Clubs & Activities
Physician Assistant Program Technical Standards
All candidates accepted into the Physician Assistant major must have the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze and synthesize data. They must have functional use of the senses of vision, hearing, equilibrium and taste. Their exteroceptive and proprioceptive senses must be sufficiently intact to enable them to carry out all activities required for a rigorous education. Candidates must have the functional motor capabilities to meet the demands of PA education and the demands of total patient care. In the pursuit of academic and clinical responsibilities, students must exhibit flexibility, sensitivity and interpersonal maturity.
Candidates must have sufficient sensory capacity to observe in the lecture hall, the laboratory, the outpatient setting, and the patient's bedside. Sensory skills adequate to perform a physical examination are required. Functional vision, hearing and tactile sensation must be adequate to observe a patient's condition and to elicit information through procedures regularly required in a physical examination, such as inspection, auscultation and palpation.
The ability to participate in basic diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers and procedures (e.g. inspection, auscultation, palpation, and percussion) is required. Candidates must have sufficient motor function to execute movements required to provide routine and emergent care to patients. The strength and coordination necessary may include lifting patients and responding promptly to patients needs in emergency situations. Candidates must be able to negotiate patient care environments and must be able to move between settings, such as clinic, classroom building, and the hospital. Physical stamina sufficient to complete the rigorous course of didactic and clinical study is required. Long periods of sitting, standing, or moving are required in classroom, laboratory, and clinical internships.
Candidates must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively in both academic and health care settings. Candidates must show evidence of effective written, verbal, non-verbal and electronic communication skills. A candidate should be able to effectively speak and listen to patients in order to elicit information, perceive nonverbal communications, and discuss changes in mood, activity and status. Students must be able to communicate with patients and their families concerning the patient's needs in a sensitive and professional manner. Communication via oral, written, and electronic form with faculty, supervisors, and the health care team must be open, effective and efficient.
Candidates must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize. Problem solving, a critical skill demanded of Physician Assistants, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, candidates should be able to comprehend three‑dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures. Candidates must be able to read, appraise, analyze, critique, and understand medical literature. A candidate must be able to collect, organize, prioritize, analyze and assimilate large amounts of technically detailed and complex information within a limited time frame. In order to complete the Physician Assistant degree, candidates must be able to then analyze, integrate, and apply this information appropriately for problem solving and decision-making in patient care.
Behavioral and Social
Candidates must possess the emotional health and maturity required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the prompt completion of all academic and patient care responsibilities. The development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients, supervisors and other members of the health care team are essential. A candidate must possess the qualities of adaptability and flexibility and they must be able to function in the face of uncertainty. Candidates must have a high level of compassion for others, motivation to serve, integrity, and a consciousness of social values. A candidate must possess the necessary interpersonal skills to interact positively with people from all levels of society, all ethnic backgrounds, and all belief systems. Moreover, students must be able to accept feedback and criticism and respond professionally to faculty and supervisors, including an appropriate modification of behavior.
Health and Safety Requirements
The School of Health Sciences requires that all students be certified in Basic Life Support. All students are required to provide the program secretary a copy of the Basic Life Support (CPR) by August 15 of the didactic year the student is enrolled. Re-certification may be necessary if students are not certified through the American Heart Association course, which is valid for two years.
All students entering into the PA major MUST fully comply with the following prior to the start date:
- Matriculating students must complete and submit the required Health Questionnaire and Physical Exam Form.
- Complete all the immunizations required, including titers.
- Submit documentation of health care coverage/insurance.
Student Participation in Evaluation of Faculty and Curriculum
Due to the School of Health Sciences’ desire for, and commitment to, improvement of the educational environment, we value student feedback. Students’ perceptions of the educational process provide much of the information to assess faculty, staff, courses, and internships.
It is critical to improve the quality of assessment and, therefore, the expectations exists that ALL students take assessment seriously and participate in the process. Because of the nature of the educational experience, all students in the PA major are REQUIRED to participate in assessments of courses, staff, faculty, and internships.
It is essential that the confidentiality of patients, health care providers, and fellow students is adhered to at all times. Any discussions that occur during the educational process, including small group exercises, competency exams, and at clinical settings, must remain confidential unless explicitly instructed otherwise.
Discussing a patient’s medical condition, or providing any information to unauthorized persons, may have serious consequences for the disclosing party. Patients should not be discussed in public, with friends, or with families.
Medical records are also strictly confidential and may not be released to anyone except with the written consent of the patient or in other limited circumstances. Students who have access to medical records must be certain that care is taken to preserve the patient’s confidentiality. No medical charts may be removed from clinical internship sites.
Physician Assistant Program Malpractice / Health Insurance
Students are responsible for purchasing and maintaining both health and malpractice insurance coverage. The minimum acceptable coverage for professional liability is 1 million per incident and 6 million aggregate. Students must submit documentation of liability insurance coverage to the PA Program office at the start of the PA major. Documentation must be current; therefore, any changes in insurance coverage must be provided to the Program immediately. The PA Program can assist students in this endeavor once accepted into the major.
All Internships require professional liability insurance along with health and immunization information. The program must provide documentation to clinical preceptors 4-6 weeks prior to the start of the internship.
Please note that students without health or malpractice insurance cannot be permitted to participate in patient contact activities, and therefore cannot successfully complete the program.
Notice of Conviction
Child-abuse clearance, criminal background checks, and drug screens are required. Students desiring entrance into the Physician Assistant major should be aware that clinical institutions could bar them from their sites if a criminal record exists or if a positive drug test is noted. (By virtue of contract for Penn College students to be at clinical sites, agencies have the right to ask for drug testing and background checks.)
Inability to gain clinical education experience results in inability to meet program objectives and outcomes. The presence of a criminal record can result in agencies refusing to issue credentials necessary for employment.
Students enrolled in the Pre-PA Program or the PA Program cannot apply for work study jobs in the program.
Physician Assistant Advisory Committee
- Praful U Bhatt, M.D., F.A.A.P
- Mr. Ricardo C Calla, PA-C, PA Neurosurgery & Neuroscience
- Dr. Robert A Donato, DO, Physician OB/GYN, A Woman's Health Center
- Dr. Duane R Donmoyer, Physician, Miller Family Health Center
- Dr. Gregory R Frailey, FACOEP, Medical Director, Prehospital Services, Susquehanna Regional EMS
- Gary D Kanouse, M.D., Physician, Medical Administrator, Kanouse Medical Group PC
- Mr. Ronald Mezick, PA-C, Physician Assistant/Partner, Lycoming Medical Associates
- Stephen Paolucci, M.D., Chairman, Division of Psychiatry, Geisinger Medical Center
- Mr. Victor Pupo, MPAS, PA-C, Chief Physician Assistant, Geisinger Health System
- John F Turner, MD, FACS, Physician, Central Susquehanna Surgical Specialists
Advisory committees, which act as recommending bodies to the faculty and administration, consist of in-field professionals who act as partners in the development of curriculum. Their curricular and equipment advice as well as their industry connections and internship opportunities are invaluable to our students and to the growth of our institution.