Midwestern University's Master of Medical Science (M.M.S.) in Physician Assistant Studies is a continuous, full-time program extending 27 months from matriculation to graduation. The Physician Assistant (PA) professional curriculum offers students the opportunity to earn a graduate degree and satisfy the eligibility requirements for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). The maximum allotted time for completion of this program is 40.5 months.
The roles and specific clinical duties and responsibilities that graduates can expect to experience will likely vary depending on their chosen career path. PA Program graduates are expected to have the ability to competently perform patient histories and physicals, gather pertinent patient data, order and interpret diagnostic studies, recognize common diseases and disorders, choose appropriate therapeutic modalities, perform surgical procedures, manage emergency life-threatening conditions, promote health through counseling, education, and disease prevention, and demonstrate interpersonal skills consistent with the physician assistant role.
The didactic coursework includes 12 months of basic science coursework in anatomy, biochemistry, neuroscience, physiology, pharmacology, immunology, genetics, and microbiology. It also includes clinical coursework in clinical medicine, behavioral medicine, professional issues, and interpretation of the medical literature. During the remaining 15 months, students are required to rotate through eight core clinical rotations and two elective clinical rotations, in addition to completing advanced clinical medicine courses and a capstone project.
The second-year clinical program is primarily delivered at affiliated clinical sites and facilities within the Chicago metropolitan area. These sites are geographically and demographically diverse, reflecting the broad scope of practice opportunities that exist for PAs in the healthcare delivery system of this country. Sites include ambulatory practice settings, small and large office-based group practices, community health centers, in-patient settings involving large and small hospitals as well as federal and state facilities. These sites are in urban, suburban, and rural communities. In addition, the Program has established formal affiliations with clinical facilities and practitioners in a number of other states. As part of the clinical education phase of the program, students enrolled in the PA Program will likely be assigned to clinical rotations that reflect the geographic and demographic diversity described above, including distant in-state and out-of state rotations. Subsidized housing is provided for distant in-state and out-of-state core clinical rotations only. Students are expected to secure their own housing for local and elective rotations, and must provide their own transportation to all core and elective clinical rotations regardless of location.
No advanced placement within the PA Program is allowed for prior academic, clinical, or life experience. Midwestern University has an articulation agreement that exists between programs. The Program strongly discourages students from seeking outside employment while attending Midwestern University and will not make any exceptions in didactic or clinical workload for any student who chooses to engage in outside employment.
The PA Program does not offer an extended course of study beyond the usual length of the program. Please click here for more information on the curriculum. Please also see the Midwestern University Catalog for more detailed course descriptions and additional University, College, and Program policies which pertain to Physician Assistant students.
MISSION, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION, AND GOALS
The mission of the Midwestern University Physician Assistant Program is to develop competent and compassionate physician assistants who will make meaningful contributions to their patients, community and profession.
Midwestern University is committed to establishing a culture of inclusivity that celebrates diversity. As part of its vision, Midwestern University embraces cultural and social diversity in the academic community and the community-at-large.
The Midwestern University-Downers Grove Physician Assistant Program also celebrates diversity, inclusion, and many perspectives in medical education. We value diversity among students, faculty, and staff throughout the educational experience. We seek to prepare future clinicians to serve diverse populations and address the healthcare needs of all patients.
These values and aims align with Midwestern University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and express commitment to meeting the diversity and inclusion standards set forth by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.
The goals of the Midwestern University Physician Assistant Program are to: 1) provide a rigorous academic and clinical curriculum and achieve first-time PANCE percentage pass rates above the national average, 2) cultivate an environment of professionalism to encourage the development of competent and compassionate providers, 3) prepare students to serve diverse populations in both primary care and specialty settings, 4) demonstrate the application of evidence-based medicine and foster a continuous commitment to life-long learning and community involvement as a health care provider, and 5) develop and implement student recruitment and holistic admissions processes to enhance the number of our matriculants from groups who are underrepresented in medicine and/or from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Midwestern University PA Program demonstrates achievement of these goals by analyzing the results of student performance in the didactic and clinical year, PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE) pass rates, and regular surveys of graduates, preceptors and employers. The 5th goal was adopted by the Program in March of 2021. Achievement of this goal will be analyzed through the Program's self-assessment of admissions processes and outcomes. The following summaries demonstrate how the Program achieves each of its goals:
- The rigorous didactic and clinical curriculum has prepared the students for success in the PANCE. The Midwestern University PA Classes of 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 all had first-time taker pass rates above the national average, as reported by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). The Midwestern University PA Class of 2020's first-time taker pass rate was the same as the national average reported by the NCCPA. The 5-year average pass rate for first time test takers from Midwestern University, Downers Grove is 98%, compared to the national average of 96%.
- 100% of the 2020 PA Program graduates successfully passed the professionalism component of the didactic and clinical year courses, and preceptors continually rank the professionalism of second year PA students as one of their greatest strengths.
- PA Program graduates report working in diverse practice settings including private offices, institutions, and community clinics. In addition, Midwestern University PA Program graduates are employed in both primary and specialty care, and work with patients of all ages and backgrounds. 16% of graduates responding to the survey* of the graduating class of 2019 also specifically designated their primary work settings as underserved.
- Graduates felt strongly that they were prepared for the practice of evidence-based medicine through the Research Seminar and Capstone Project components of the curriculum, and demonstrated a commitment to life-long learning via completion of online continuing medical education activities, regular journal reading, local and/or national conference attendance, and teaching other healthcare providers. Graduates from the Midwestern University PA Program are involved in promoting health and wellness in their communities.
- This goal was established in March of 2021 . A summary of data outlining the Program's progress toward achieving this goal will be provided in summer/fall of 2022.
*October 2020 survey of the graduating class of 2019 (not every graduate answered each question; max. response rate was approximately 52%)