Physician Assistant Studies
The Department of Physician Assistant Studies is at the forefront of education for PAs, emphasizing professional excellence and leadership through a 24-month program. In addition, we educate our students to be advocates for just practices, policies and standards in the profession, and to promote the right to good healthcare in society.
Physician Assistant Profession
A physician assistant (PA) is a licensed medical professional who works as part of a team under the supervision of a physician. PAs are trained in a medical school model of curriculum to perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, prescribe medications, order and interpret lab tests, perform procedures, assist in surgery, provide patient education and counseling, and make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes.
The PA profession is rooted in history as a creative solution to physician shortages. Dr. Eugene Stead of the Duke University Medical Center developed the profession in the mid-1960s as a way to fast-track U.S. Navy corpsmen who had received substantial medical training during their military preparation into primary care to meet the needs of this national shortage of providers.
Physician Assistants provide high quality, cost-effective healthcare and are productive members of the health care team. The physician assistant profession is in a continued growth pattern with an estimated increase of 30 percent by 2020 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook).
Mercyhurst University has applied for Accreditation - Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Mercyhurst University anticipates matriculating its first class in June 2014, pending Accreditation - Provisional in March 2014. Accreditation - Provisional is an accreditation status for a new PA program that has not yet enrolled students, but at the time of its initial accreditation review, has demonstrated its preparedness to initiate a program in accordance with the Accreditation Standards
Catherine Gillespie, DHSc, PA-C
Chair, Department of Physician Assistant Studies
Associate Director, Graduate Admissions